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Carlos Gatica, Chief Winemaker
with Santa Rita, the
second biggest wine producer in Chile, was in Cork yesterday and brought a
strong line-up to the Gilbeys Wine Tasting Lunch at Isaacs.
Many of you will be familiar
with the Chilean winery’s 120 series and Carlos referred to the story (with a
strong Irish connection) behind the 120 and you may read more on that here.
Santa Rita’s current mission
though is to “educate” their Irish sellers, including hotels and restaurants
who were well represented here, in an effort to broaden the appreciation of the
better Santa Rita wines and particularly their reservas.
The introductory handshake was
a very pleasant concentrated white: the Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010. This was
accompanied by a selection of tempting tapas.
Could have happily stayed with
those tasty bites but move on we did and Carlos then presented their 2009 Gran Reserva
Medalla Real Chardonnay,
This has quite an intense
bouquet and is a well balanced wine with silky texture and went down well with
a warm salad of Marinated Chicken, smoked bacon and rustic potatoes.
Now it was on to the steak and
the first of the reds. This was the superb Pehmén Carménère 2007 made with grapes from an old vineyard in the
Apalta Valley. Aging is in 100% French oak barrels for 18 months. Really liked
this flavoursome persistent wine.
The cheese made its appearance
as it was time for the piece de résistance: a vertical tasting of the classic
Casa Real. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon “seeks to obtain the maximum expression
of the Alto Jaheul terroir”. New French oak barrels are used.
Many of you will know that
vertical tasting means tasting the same wine from different years. The vintages
at Isaacs were 2007, 2002 and 1999. The still young 2007, marginally higher in
ABV @ 14.5%, was of excellent quality, the fruit concentrated after a good
year, but was overshadowed by the other two.
The very elegant and
concentrated 2002 (14.4%) was perhaps my favourite. Well balanced with ripe
flavours and tannins, it has a full body and “a sleek finish”.
No vote was taken but the
number one choice was the 1999 (4.3%), an “opulent” wine from an “opulent”
year. The winemaker’s comments covered it all: "As a terroir concept, the 1999
vintage has been undoubtedly considered as the maximum expression of a 100%
Cabernet Sauvignon to date.”
Interesting to note that Santa
Rita has a presence in six wine areas of the country, allowing it to grow many
different kinds of grape and expand its portfolio. Some of their areas are
north of Santiago de Chile, some to the south (Carlos lives in Curicó), some
are close to the coast, others in the foothills of the Andes. The valleys are
Limari, Casablanca, Leyda, Rapel, Maipo and Apalto.
Credit to Gilbeys for putting
on this excellent event “the first of many around the country”. Well done also
to Carlos for his descriptions and humour and for bringing such a stunning selection
See some more photos, these by Billy MacGill....here
CORK GOURMET TRAIL
Captains Sylvia and Sandra
of pirates gathered in Cork City on Saturday. But their intentions were benign.
Make the most of the inaugural Cork Gourmet Trail was the
mission and it was accomplished with much fun, thanks to our merry captains.
call was to Soho in
mid-morning where a Pannier Champagne reception
was laid on. There was a pirate hat competition running and early favourites
emerged at the photo call. Champers downed, the gathering was divided into
three crews and marched out on to the streets.
by feisty captains Sylvia and Sandra, our crew wandered peacefully through the
side streets until we reached Greens by the
Waterfall where the host restaurant was joined by Isaacs and the
dishing up the grub. The grog, as was the case in all four venues, was sponsored
by Classic Drinks.
Next host was Electric, again
through the side streets including a stop in Oliver Plunkett Street and a song
which earned the singing pirate a meal out for two!
music at Electric where Pa Fitz entertained and where the high standard of food
was maintained by Jacobs, the
and Electric itself. Still one more food stop to go and that was at the
Cornstore where the providers were Amicus, Fenns Quay and Cornstore.
five o’clock, the different crews re-united upstairs at the nearby Bodega to
compare notes and the bounty – some restaurants, including Jacobs and Electric,
gave out meal or wine vouchers – and listen to the band. The quiz and costumes
winners were announced and the Bodega management offered everyone a free drink.
Pat Fitz at Electric
was a very enjoyable day and very encouraging for the organisers. Looks like one
that will be repeated. Personally, I enjoyed every moment, from that first
starter of Jack McCarthy Black Pudding with Apple Sauce by Isaacs to the final
Chocolate Mousse in a mini-cornet by Fenns Quay.
hard to sample everything; don't think it was possible. My favourite of
those that I did try out was the Chicken Balti with the French Morteau sausage
by Augustine’s. Isaac’s breaded lamb chop and Electric’s cold sea bass dish
were other favourites.
I was just one of many and others spoke to me of enjoying their particular
favourites and I heard that the Tapas type offerings of some restaurants went
down very well, the Boardwalk’s steaks were popular was were the Chinese
offerings of the Ambassador.
for everyone then and nice to see some chefs trying something different such as
the “Gravalaix of Tuna in a Nori seaweed” by the Rising Tide and the different
take on the Seafood Chowder by Greene’s who also had a terrific Beetroot Soup
on their table.
a word of praise to Classic Drinks who not alone kept the thirsty crews well lubricated
but also took the trouble to post up plenty of information about the wines and
varied the offerings from restaurant to restaurant, usually matching a red with
a white from the same area. In Electric for example, they had a Muriel Blanco
2009 along with a Muriel CVC Rioja 2006.
a big thanks to Classic, to Pannier, to all the restaurants and especially to the
organisers! Just picked up a message in a bottle down the quays and it reads:
Let’s do it all again next year!
Told you before. I’m a specials kind of guy. And that policy worked a treat for me when I dined in McCurtain Street’s Isaacs this weekend.
Had a quick look at the regular menu before getting down to serious consideration of the Specials. Four starters were listed and I choose the Pan Fried new season lambs liver and kidney salad with rustic potatoes and crisp bacon. Delighted with it: very tasty and surprisingly substantial.
Also very happy with the main course of Pan Fried John Dory fillets. Really well done as were the accompanying vegetables. Again, a substantial and tasty dish. The Sherry Trifle was also fine, scattered with broken bits of honeycomb and on a base of soaked cherries. Cherry Trifle maybe?
It has been a month of favourites, regular visits to Isaacs and even more so to Jacques . Both stood up well to the stress testing. Enjoyable fish dishes in each spot, Haddock one evening in Isaacs, Hake at Jacques.
Jacques is pretty expensive but value is good though I find paying €3.50 for a cup of coffee (a good cup I must admit) annoying and won't be doing it again.
There is value to be had in Jacques on the €25.00 menu which is available most weekdays and up to 7.00pm on weekends. The number of choices is limited but what you do get is top class food and the menu changes regularly.
The recession is biting and there are an increasing number of early birds available around town – make sure you check the local press before you go out.
During the Celtic Tiger we probably got used to speedy and efficient service in the restaurants – sometimes you were glad to get in, they were so busy. But the old personal warm friendly touch was lacking in most places. Nobody was discourteous. But, once the formalities were concluded, there was nothing extra, proprietors and staff didn’t even use the Irish fallback of the weather in conversation.
Now that things are slowing down, it might be no harm to cultivate that kind of rapport again. A warm greeting doesn't do any harm. I know myself that certain shops in town are a joy to visit. Ronnie Moore’s and O’Leary’s Camera World are good examples. I started going there years ago, felt welcome and still go there. Restaurants please copy.
Favourite Hotel restaurant: Pembroke Grill in the Imperial.
Favourite pizzeria: The Brick Oven in Bantry.
Favourite Dessert: While the desserts in Jacques are excellent, my vote goes to Jacobs on the Mall for its Date and Butterscotch Pudding.
LUNCH Hard to go wrong here as you will get a decent lunch in most places in town, especially Market Lane. The outskirts are also well served: try Killumney Inn on the west, The Boot House on the north and the Elm Tree on the east. You will get a good roast of the day in any these.
For something different why not try Boqueria, the Tapas Bar in Bridge Street. On a recent visit I enjoyed a bowl of paella (loads of chicken and shellfish and served with a tarty side salad, for a €10.00). Just to add a note of caution, a glass of wine here (starting at €7.00 and mostly from Catalonia) is a full 25cl, a third of a bottle, and substantially more than your usual glass.
Rachel Allen recently proclaimed on TV that Isaacs (McCurtain Street) is her favourite bistro. She has many who’ll agree with her, even if the place was less than half full last night.
We had a smashing meal there. I must admit I was particularly pleased with the “Wine of the Month”, so pleased in fact that I didn't even notice that they charged me €25.00 instead of the €24.00 on the menu. It is a Lugana (from an area close to Lake Garda - see http://www.italianmade.com/wines/DOC10186.cfm ) and is produced by Zenato. One of the best whites I’ve tasted in a long time.
Started off with a lovely plate of tapas between us. Great variety for €10.90. Then on to the main course. I had one of the day’s specials, Turbot on spinach with a Beurre Blanc sauce. Very good. The Advisor went for the Moroccan Tagine, shank of lamb with couscous. Again top class and quite reasonable at €18.80.
Dessert (€7.00) was also quite good and a little different: a Tunisian Orange Cake, served with a berry compote and crème fraîche. The orange taste was not dominant but it had a lovely light citrus flavour. Light and tasty.