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Wednesday, October 31, 2018
La Boussole Pinot Noir Les Grandes Cotes (Pays D’Oc, IGP) 2015, 12.5%, €13.45 Le Caveau
Colour is a bright ruby and the aromas feature strawberries and raspberries. It is medium bodied, smooth and juicy. Light fruit flavours much in evidence as is a lively acidity, a little spice and an excellent fruity finish. Very Highly Recommended and great value too.
Winemaker Claude Serra employs, among other things, low yields and “a ruthless approach to quality control” to ensure a wine that reflects the variety and its terroir. And that terroir is in the Ardeche region of western Provence. The fact that it’s a cool-ish area helps the Pinot Noir.
By the way, if you ever have the good luck to be in the area, try the clafoutis! And try everything else as well. All with a glass or two of this Pinot, a very good food wine. Bon Appetit!
Domaine Ste. Croix “La Serre” Vin de France 2016, 13.5%, €20.75 Mary Pawle Wines
La Serre is the name of the limestone hill which overlooks the village of Fraïssé des Corbières. The wine is blended from the fruit of old vines grown on a limestone influenced terroir : Grenache Blanc (50%), Grenache Gris (35%), Terret Bourret (15%). Under the hot Midi sun, the vineyard produces delicious ripe fruit to make this organic dry white wine.
Colour is a mid straw and you’ll note lots of micro-bubbles hanging around in the glass. It has an aromatic nose with hints of honey. Citrus fruit flavours and a striking minerality share the spotlight on the palate. Lively acidity too and a long lip-smacking finish with the aromatics lasting the pace too. Very Highly Recommended.
M. Chapoutier Gigondas (AC) 2015, 14.5%, €34.95 Bradley's Cork
Like most Southern Rhone wines, this is a blend, mainly Grenache plus Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre. And it is made by a man whose philosophy is summed up by this sentence: I will not use the power of death (herbicides, pesticides, other -ides) but I will use the power of life.
And, from the dry hot Provencal climate (2,800 hours of sunshine each year), this dark ruby wine is full of life. Aromas of ripe red fruits, mainly strawberry, hints of kirsch. And magnificent fruit flavours feature prominently on the palate, well-balanced though. Chapoutier is always worth following, right to a very satisfying finalé in this case. No hesitation here: Very Highly Recommended.
The VHR was always on the cards here as both Chapoutier, “the Poet of the Rhone” and Gigondas are among my favourites. For more on this fascinating winemaker check here.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Different Worlds but Two Super Red Wines
Domaine Sainte Croix Celèstra Corbieres (AOC) 2013, 14.5%, €29.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Sainte Croix in the Languedoc is owned and run by the English husband and wife team of Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, who have extensive experience of working both in classic French stone ‘caves’ and giant, steel wineries in many parts of the world. From first sight of the unique geology and ‘climat’ here, professional intuition made it clear that it is an area of immense potential, a potential they consistently realise in their wines and illustrated well in this Celèstra, a blend of 50% Grenache (from 1968 vines) and 50% Syrah (from 1984 vines).
It is a dark red, verging on purple; legs are slow to clear, confirming the big alcohol count. Intense dark fruits (plums, blackberries) on the nose, Intense too on the palate, concentrated red and black fruits, spice prominent too. Tannins also in the mix as this attractive wine finishes long and well. Very Highly Recommended.
The name Celèstra is taken from an Occitan word for blue (origin latin caelum, meaning sky. . .). “As a wine with a highly Languedocian profile, it could be said to be from ‘le grand bleu’.” It is an organic wine, unfined, unfiltered. It has been 100% matured sur lie in 300 litre barrels (3-5 fill) for 18 months. Blended and returned to tank for 6 months before bottling. Enjoy!
El Abasto Malbec Mendoza (Argentina) 2017, 13.5%, €16.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This vibrant fruity full-bodied wine is named after an 1983 established market that became also a centre for tango, poetry, and culture.
Colour is a mid to dark ruby. Lots of rich red and darker fruit, plus a touch of violet, in the aromas. Juicy and lively, full-bodied, a touch of spice, exceptionally smooth all the way to the excellent finish. Now where’s that steak? Also just the job with selection of charcuterie, cold cuts, firm cheeses, burgers, pasta with red sauce. Versatile is the word! This young very approachable wine is Very Highly Recommended. And it can be served chilled, though you probably won’t need to do that at this time of year!
There are, according to Wines of South America, two main factors that help Malbec thrive in Mendoza. The low rainfall (12” as against 30” Bordeaux) and its timing, falling mostly in the summer, promotes ripening and minimises desease. Second, Mendoza’s wide thermal amplitude (put simply, the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures) promotes aromatic development and softened tannins.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Sokol Blosser Evolution Lucky No. 9 White Blend (Dundee, Oregon, USA) NV, 12%, €24.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This is worth trying; it is excellent, in the same way that Gentil from Alsace vineyards can be surprisingly delicious. Gentil are multi-grape blends and so is this non vintage white. The grapes used are Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Sémillon, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. It is a non-oaked wine and was introduced in 1998 and this is the 19th edition.
Evolution No. 9 is a play on the Beatles number Revolution No. 9. Sokol Blosser say the white was created out of the desire to make a fun wine, one that would accompany the modern predilection for "yoking different kinds of food together" and is “very much more than the sum of its very disparate parts”. Pair it with spicy Asian, Indian, Mexican and Caribbean foods. Or with a jambalaya.
Pioneers Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser planted their first vines in 1971 in the Dundee Hills. Their vineyards are farmed organically; local organic straw, organic cow and horse manure, grape pomace from the crush and organic rock phosphate contribute to the composting. The insect population is kept in check by a resident flock of bluebirds.
It has a pale straw colour but the juice looks really good and clean in the bottle and you’re thinking this is a good one, your opinion reinforced by the fairly intense mix of lush and tropical aromas. Again that same amalgam of fruit on the smooth palate, a touch of sweetness early on but there is excellent acidity in there too that ensures a satisfying crisp finalé. Very Highly Recommended. The Evolution Big Time Red, was first released in 2012, and is on my list!
Alfredo Maestro Viña Almate Castilla y León (VT) 2016, 14%, €14.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
The Tempranillo grapes for this wine are grown in Peñafiel in Ribera del Duero but, according to Spanish Wine Lover, it has always been sold as VT Castilla y León. Le Caveau say the wine is raised for four months in neutral French oak; it is unfined, unfiltered and very low SO2.
Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are quite complex, ripe red fruits prominent. Red fruit flavours too on the generous palate, while a touch of spice heightens the pleasure of this easy drinking young wine. Highly Recommended. This is Alfredo’s flagship wine and Spanish Wine Lover rates it “as outstanding within its type and style”.
From the beginning, in 1998, Alfredo farmed organically, his mantra: “Wine made with only grapes, well-kept vineyards, and healthy land.” With more land and experience now at his disposal, Alfredo is one to watch as the story of his pure and elegant wines evolves.Look out for more well-made wines from the man "known as the 'magician of the Duero’, a prominent exponent of the natural wine movement in Spain.Wine briefs
SuperValu's current wine sale continues until October 10th and is headlined by their mix and match offer of 6 bottles for €50.00. Plenty of choice so I had quick look and here's my half-dozen, three white and three red.
1 ABELLIO ALBARIÑO
2 ARESTI TRISQUEL SAUVIGNON BLANC
3 BURDIZZO VERMENTINO TOSCANA
4 HOMMAGE DU RHONE VINSOBRES
5 CHATEAU HAUT BERTINERIE RED
6 CASA DE LA ERMITA CRIANZA
O'Brien's have dozens of wines of offer also for the month but what really caught my eye is their Organic Wine Masterclass on October 18th. Details below:
Introduced by expert Sommelier François Pages from Gérard Bertrand, guests will be led through a selection of Gérard Bertrand’s finest wines, including the exquisite single-vineyard, Clos d’Ora. Learn about the organic and biodynamic philosophies that are at the heart of each Gérard Bertrand wine and the meticulous attention to detail in the cellar.
The Masterclass will begin at 7.30pm and a light cheese board will be served to accompany the wines.
Tickets: €25 - Available online HERE
There'll be a discount on the night for any orders placed on Gérard Bertrand wines.
Date: Thursday October 18th
Where: Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 2.
A week earlier, SPIT – out of the Ordinary wines from artisan wineries represented by four independent wine companies, GrapeCircus, Nomad, VinosTito and WineMason - will be held on October 11th in The Chocolate Factory (Dublin). Details here.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Bastion. Playing in the Irish Top Rank.
The summer was back as we headed towards Bastion in Kinsale on Wednesday last. Late in the season, but the town was still busy, tourists walking around and checking the menus. With the water sparkling and the colourful marina packed, it could have been the Med. What we ate in the Bastion could sit easily on Europe’s top tables. And that puts it in the top rank here.
We even have a window table (good light for the pics!) so the signs are good from the start. And it continues that way with the two breads, a hard to match sourdough and a matchless Brioche. Hard to decide then between the Treacle Butter and the Olive Oil with Balsamic. But no decision necessary - enough to share!
There is a mega wine-list here. Take the reds for example. You may start with a €27.00 bottle, a very nice Vina Albergada for example, and go right up to the famous Penfold’s Grange. The Grange will set you back nine hundred euro or €180.50 per glass. They use the Coravin here so you can indeed sample some of the more expensive wines by the glass.
They have Prosecco on tap and some very interesting Prosecco based cocktails. The Kir Royale (cassis and prosecco) is a superb example of its kind while I was absolutely delighted with my Pisco (elderflower, orange bitters and Prosecco).
By now, the first of our five courses, from the Early Bird Tasting Menu, had arrived. A local oyster, from Oysterhaven; served with apple yogurt, purée and jelly and pickled fennel, this bracing delight of the sea had the taste buds standing up.
The Celeriac Velouté was next, an unctuous sauce in its own container, and, on a little dish, pickled giroles, apple, celeriac mousse and hazelnut oil. Now those taste buds were on full alert.
And their reward was a gorgeous Smoked and Cured Organic Salmon dish. That salmon was superb but the accompaniments, especially the soft goats cheese and the salt-baked beetroot, were also outstanding and the candy walnuts got into this tasty act as well.
The main event was now at hand: Lamb rump, with peas, turnip and preserved lemon. The peas were good but the turnip was something else and there were some pickled rounds of it also. Needless to say, the lamb from the Kerry hills, in its two manifestations (roast and slow-cooked), was spot on.
Desserts, occasionally, don’t match the rest of the meal. Not the case here! Our White Chocolate Panna Cotta, with Pistachio Sponge, cherry sorbet and cherry granola, was a delightful finalé, served in an eye-catching fine china cup.
This superb restaurant, which has gone from strength to strength over the past three years under Helen (front of house) and Paul (Head Chef), supports local producers. In this menu alone, suppliers include Horizon Farm, Padraig O’Donovan fish, while the cheese, the beef and the lamb are all Irish.
It holds the only Michelin bib in Cork city and county and everything you eat here, from the bread to the sweet treat with your coffee, is made in-house. While Bastion faces the same challenges as most other restaurants and cafes in staff recruitment, their service is friendly and attentive (without ever being in your face).
As we walked earlier in the warming September sun towards town centre Bastion, we spotted, in the backwater under Man Friday, a quartet of herons in different trees, all on the alert. There were fish jumping, seemingly without a care in the world. On our return, there were no fish jumping. And the herons looked well satisfied. Like us, they had enjoyed a very good meal!
Thursday, September 20, 2018
L’Atitude Scales New Altitude
Filling Me Softly With Her Food
|Stracciatella. Multo Bella.|
No secret that Cork’s L’Atitude 51 is one of the best wine-bars around. That’s been confirmed by awards, both local and national. But did you know they have a lovely food offering too? Number One Union Quay is certainly a place to take it easy, easy drinking and also easy eating, sometimes easy listening as well.
Here you can go from aperitifs to small plates to large plates and have a lot of fun doing so. No shortage of variety here with a range of dishes that distinguishes L’Atitude from the mainstream. Who, for instance, is doing Toonsbridge Stracciatella?
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. There is a huge wine menu here, page after page of organic and natural wines, and that is what we looked at first. Many are available by the 125ml and 175ml glass, a 250ml carafe and by the bottle. Some, the more expensive ones, are available by bottle only! Since we were in, we were going to try a few so the glass was our vessel choice for the evening.
And we started with the Crisp with Attitude Page, featuring wines that are lively, racy and mineral. CL made a very good pick: the Secateurs Chenin Blanc from the Badenhorst estate in South Africa while I enjoyed the Wines Direct import, the Paddy Borthwick Riesling from New Zealand. Sipped those as we tucked into a bowl of mixed olives.
The menu here is “less formal”, encouraging you to share as the dishes arrive from the kitchen. Oh, they also do a Plat du Jour. You’ll see that on the blackboard. On the night of our visit it was Tagliatelle with a lamb ragu and they coupled that with a glass of wine, all for around fifteen euro (if I remember rightly). And they also do lunch daily.
And soon we were sharing another dish, a much bigger one; the Tapas, at €18.50, is one of the more expensive ones on the menu, but a very impressive platter indeed, well assembled and well presented. It contains Coppa, Jamon, Pecorino, Toonsbridge Mozzarella, Charred Aubergine, Artichokes, Roasted Red Pepper and Caponata was irresistible and easily and lazily dispatched.
|Duck x 3.|
At this point, the wines had changed. I was on to the orange wine (lots of skin contact and yet a good introduction to the style for beginners) from Sicily, the cloudy Rallo Baglio with a fantastic concentration of the flavours. CL meanwhile was on safer ground with the Madregale Rosso, one of the best house wines around these parts.
Now with the Tapas and the basket of bread finished we sipped the wines and waited for the next batch of food! And that’s where the eye-catching palate pleasing Stracciatella comes in. Even though the two dishes came together, there was a duel around this beauty. It is the creamy filling you’ll find in Burrata (another Toonsbridge cheese). It is soft and fresh, it has to be. Presented on a bed of grilled aubergine and topped with Dukkah, it was temptation from the first bite, especially when spooned into the “pocket” breads that came with it.
The sharing continued with the Duck 3 Ways: Ummera Smoked Duck, Duck and Port Paté, and Potatoes sautéed in Duck Fat. Well, you know that Ummera’s Smoked Duck is a gem of southern cuisine yet the combination here somehow managed to put an extra shine on an already excellent product. Superb.
We were on to our final wines by now, both of us on the red. CL picked from the “Fruity with Attitude” section and came up trumps with a classic Pinot Noir by Regnaudot (Burgundy) while my final tipple was the Blaufrankisch by Austria’s Judith Beck, a winemaker that seems to be appearing more and more in this country. The plush Blaufrankisch, with generous fruit, is biodynamically produced and worth seeking out.
And L’Atitude itself, with its friendly service and informal style, is also worth seeking out either for wine or food or both!
1 Union Quay (corner opposite City Hall)
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Arianna Occhipinti SP 68 Rosso Terre Siciliane (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €26.35 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
Get your kicks on route sixty-eight. Doesn't rhyme! This super wine, liquid poetry, is named after the road that passes by the Sicilian vineyard where Arianna Occhipinti happily produces the clean wines that have given her quite a reputation.
“Arianna Occhipinti is a real star of ‘natural wine’. …Good agriculture and minimal intervention in the cellar bring light to every label in production. No accident today that her Frappato is on the wine lists at the worldliest tables of Parisian neo-bistros.”
So says the authoritative Modern History of Italian Wine speaking of Arianna whom they include in a very short list of the most influential Italian winemakers of the current decade.
And that Frappato grape is included in the blend here, its partner being the much better known Nero D’Avola. Gorgeous aromatics here, a melange of fruit (red) and floral, herb notes too, even a wee bit of pepper. On the palate, it is light and bright with berry (raspberry from the Frappato) and red cherry fruit, energy and grace in every sip, excellent acidity too, very refreshing, an exquisite balance of power and finesse and those lips drying at the finalé. Very Highly Recommended.
And if the Irish weather is warm when you get your hands on a bottle, don't hesitate to chill it a little, about forty minutes in the fridge did it for me. There was a little sediment, so maybe decant. If you forget, don’t worry!
Viña Albergada Tempranillo Rioja (DOC) 2016, 13%, €12.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
The colour of this young wine, a joven, is a dark ruby. There are expressive aromas of ripe red fruit (cherry, plum). On the palate it is juicy and fruity, with a touch of spice, very good acidity, quite refreshing. Perhaps not the longest of finishes but a good one. Highly Recommended.
The unoaked joven is a lighter, easy-drinking style of Rioja that offers great value-for-money. Great too, they hint, as an aperitif with Banderillas tapas (green olives, gherkins, onions and pimenta). And it is one of those reds that may be tried chilled.
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Georgian Wine. The Ancient Becomes Cutting Edge
Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli Kakheti (Georgia) 2016, 12.5%, €22.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
When American artist John Wurdeman, then working in the Soviet Union, was persuaded by a new-found friend to get involved in a Georgian winery, they were thinking of using oak, like some were. But the local bishop put them on the right wine road: “Stay with tradition. Keep true to the Georgian way. Use no additives. Use qvevri. Have faith.”
And so John Wurdeman and Gela Patalashvili now use the qvevri and, “with love and awe”, make their wine as it has been made here for 8,000 years. “Our natural wines are made entirely in qvevri inside the womb of the earth.” A qvevri is huge earthenware vat sunk into the ground and used for fermentation and storage. Another difference is that the Georgians use skin contact extensively, hence the deep colours of the two wines in this post.
“At Pheasant's Tears we believe our primary task is to grow endemic grapes from unparalleled Georgian soil, harvest that fruit and then preserve it as wine using traditional Georgian methods.
In working this close to the vine we experience both heartache and celebration; yet every year there is a new harvest to cultivate, and the eventual discovery of a wine of untold beauty.” This is one of the beauties!
To read more on the amazing story, including how the Georgian winemakers survived a long period of Soviet industrialisation of the vineyard and the winery, get your hands on “For the love of wine” by Alice Feiring. And to understand better the philosophy behind the men and women of Pheasant’s Tears check out this YouTube video.
And so back to our bottle made from the white wine grape Rkatsiteli where the skin contact helps give this amazing amber colour. Nose is intense with a waft of honey. The palate is rich with range peel and dried apricot and walnut notes also. It is full-bodied and the noticeably dry finish is persistent, with tannins kissing the lips.
It is versatile with food (ask the Georgians who typically allow three litres per person at their legendary feasts). We tried it with Chicken Piri Piri (with a courgette and tomato accompaniment from the garden). Later, with a bowl of unadorned strawberries. And later again with a slice of courgette (a bit of a glut at present!) and walnut cake.
Made with love and awe. We drank it with love and awe. Very Highly Recommended.
Tbilvino Marks & Spencer Rkatsiteli Qvevri, Kakheti, Georgia, 2015, 12% abv, €15.00 (on offer at the time) M & S.
Okay, so you need a bit of translation. Tbilvino are the producers for Marks and Spencer who blended it. Rkatsiteli is the grape and the Qvevri is the Georgina underground vessel (an amphora) in which the wine has matured. Kakheti is the wine region in the far east of the country.
The company story begins in the twentieth century, in 1962, when one of the most powerful wine factories in the Soviet Union was launched in Tbilisi. For years the factory remained an essential part of the Soviet winemaking industry (nine of ten bottles of wine sold inside the country and abroad were made in this factory). The emphasis was more on quantity than quality until the early 1990s when it emerged as an independent wine company with a new philosophy.
M & S say this orange wine from the white Rkatsiteli grapes is made in the traditional manner. The grape juice and skins are fermented together, then partially matured in the Qvevri for several months developing the wine’s rich and unique style. So unique that wine beginners may not like it, so be careful who you offer it to.
The colour, some say orange, some amber, is striking in the glass and the rich aromas have hints of honey. Rich and deep too on the palate, dried fruit (apricot), some spice too, nutty notes also in the mix. And a good finish as well. Highly Recommended. I think food is an essential with this one and M&S recommend pairing it with mixed seafood platters, and spicy dishes such as chicken tagine or tandoori chicken.
See previous post on orange wines here.
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
We are red, we are white.
Talking here about two Australian wines new from Le Caveau, both in the Samurai series by Free Run Juice and each worth taking notice of. By the way, you won't see Samurai written on the labels but it is there in the illustrations!
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. Do you remember what that tastes like? 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 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.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Three wines to enjoy from Tuscany
Terrabianca Chianti Classico Riserva Croce (DOCG) Riserva 2012, 13.5%, €25.75 Karwig Wines
Colour is a beautiful ruby red. Aromas of ripe cherry. Superb fruit on the palate, sweet juicy cherry, touch of pepper, terrific structure, good acidity and satisfyingly long fruit-driven finish. Very Highly Recommended.
This is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo. The grapes are selected at the winery before being approved for separate vinification in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Ageing: Aged in Slavonian oak (50 hectolitre), then about 3 months in French oak barrique (2nd use) and in bottle for at least 12 months.
Serving Suggestions: Best served at 16-18 °C (60.8-64.4 °F). Pairs well with pasta dishes.
Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (DOCG) 2015, 13.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Wine OnLine, Liberty Wines
Rufina is a highly regarded sub-zone in Chianti and its best wines are a match, some more than a match, for those from Chianti Classico. This producer is one of the best and produces the wine from the area’s famous Sangiovese grape (with a touch of Canaiolo). It is aged for 12 months, some in steel but most in oak casks and barriques.
It is a startlingly light red. Cherry and berry on the nose. Fresh and juicy on the palate, quite a backbone of flavour, smooth though and easy drinking but also generously blessed with finesse. Elegant and precise and with a long finish, this Chianti Rufina is Very Highly Recommended, especially if you like the lighter styles.
Camillo Ciliegiolo Maremma Toscana (DOC) 2015, 13.5%, €18.85 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This is made from organically grown, forty year old Ciliegiolo vines. Ciliegiolo? I hear you ask. I asked too and confirmed it is little known with an uncertain genealogy, being either the parent or offspring of Sangiovese.
Antonio Camillo is noted as a top grower in Maremma (an area of southern Tuscany that has been producing wines since the Etruscans) by none other than Oz Clark in Grapes and Wines.
Antonio Camillo is noted as a top grower in Maremma (an area of southern Tuscany that has been producing wines since the Etruscans) by none other than Oz Clark in Grapes and Wines.
The book, co-written with Margaret Rand, says Ciliegiolo (little cherry) “is sometimes bottled as a varietal, and it can be found as far south as Sicily and as far north as Val d’Aosta.”
The Camillo version is a bright mid-ruby in colour, the aromas a mix of cherry and berry. Refreshing ripe cherry fruit, some spice also, good acidity and persistent fine-grain tannins all in the dry finish. Good structure, very drinkable and Highly Recommended. Try, they say, with hearty dishes (stews) and hard cheeses.
Sunday, August 12, 2018
A Taste of West Cork Festival
Some of the Best.
There is so much to do in next month’s major festival, A Taste of West Cork: over 250 events, spread over 41 towns and villages and eight islands. And, despite the one hundred thousand welcomes, you’ll find it difficult enough to make your choices. So, this is where my digest comes in.
While I don’t know West Cork like the back of my hand, I have a decent amount of experience there, including at this festival. So, if you lose patience with the official multi-page guide (especially if you’re reading it online), check out these suggestions divided into BARGAIN, OFF PLATE (eating not essential!), A/N (afternoon), EVENING, and BtB (bust the budget). Some of these are free or have just nominal charges.
By the way, I have omitted the guest chefs/pop up events. I have mixed feelings on these because I’ve had mixed experience of them. I’ll leave the decision up to yourself but do get as much information from the venue in advance as possible and that should help avoid any disappointment.
The programme has been published in national and local newspapers and is available online here. Something for everyone. Take your pick and enjoy!
Friday Sep 7th
BARGAIN: Traditional Fishing, Boats, Pots and Lines. Free. 2.30 Baltimore
OFF PLATE: Lough Hyne To The Sea. Kayaking €65.00
A/N: Afternoon Sea - seafood savouries at Seaview House Hotel, Ballylickey €29.00
EVENING: Lobster Garden Party with Diana Dodog at The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry €55.00
Saturday Sep 8th
BARGAIN: The Honey Bee, with experienced bee-keeper at Organico, Bantry. €10.00.
OFF PLATE: Pencil to Garden to Plate, drawing class with Annabel Langrish at Heron Gallery Cafe €50.00 inc lunch.
A/N: Islander’s Rest BBQ with Derry Clarke. Sherkin 1.00pm €20.00
EVENING: The West Cork Food Tour. Manning’s Ballylickey from 6.00pm. Farm Tour and BBQ €80.00
BtB: The Ancient Craft of Blacksmithing at O’Driscoll Ironworks, Durrus Day long class €150.00
|Garinish Island, Glengariff|
Sunday Sep 9th
BARGAIN: Kilcrohane Country Fair 2-6pm. Stall, producers, music, BBQ (€5.00)
OFF PLATE: Hidden Edibles, The Ewe Experience, Glengarriff, 10.00 to 11.00am, €12.50
A/N: Tarte Tatin Demo & Tasting by John Desmond at Heir Island 2.30pm, free but pay for ferry
EVENING: The Celtic Camino Dinner at Gougane Barra Hotel. Caminos popping up everywhere. Dinner is €50.00.
|Michael Collins event, 10th September, Clonakilty|
Monday Sep 10th
BARGAIN: Manage your own herb garden, Organico Bantry 4.00pm, €5.00
OFF PLATE: Plastic is a Plague. A seminar with distinguished speakers at Liss Ard, Skibbereen, 11.00am-3.00pm, €20.00.
A/N: Devoy’s Organic Farm visit. Vegetables, eggs, chickens stories 2.30pm Three euro
EVENING: Scannell’s Tastes of the Sea Aperitif plus 5-course feast of fish. 7.00pm €60.00
Tuesday Sep 11th
BARGAIN: The Secret Garden, The Sutherland Centre, Skibbereen. A true secret garden. Free.
OFF PLATE: Art and the Great Hunger, a guided tour of this incredible exhibition at Uillinn, Skibbereen, two euro
A/N: Cream Tea at the Top of the Rock, Drimoleague. Guided Walk around eco-farm before grand tea and scones. €12.00.
EVENING: Wine & Dine at Deasy’s in Ring. Italian wine and Caitlin Ruth’s cooking combine in five-course meal from 7.00pm for €55.00.
BtB: Heron & Grey at The Mews Inventive Tasting Menu, 7.30pm, €95.00
Wednesday Sep 12th
BARGAIN: Ummera Smokehouse, Timoleague. A marvellous visit and tasting for free. 10.30am
OFF PLATE: Bere Island and the Great Famine. Informative historical bus tour 12.00pm to 2.00pm and packed lunch €30.00. Ferry at 11.30am extra.
A/N: Wild Berry Bakery, Ballineen. Bakery visit and samples. All proceeds to charity. Entry €5.00
EVENING: A Taste of India at Richy’s Clonakilty. Welcome drink and multi-course Indian meal by Meeran Gani Manzoor, Head Chef at Richy’s. €60.00.
BtB: Intimate Dinner at Inish Beg House on Inish Beg Island. Formal dinner surrounded by country house grandeur, silver service. €95.00
Thursday Sep 13th
BARGAIN: Tasting (and bottle to take away) for a fiver at 9 White Deer Brewery in Ballyvourney. 2.00pm
OFF PLATE: Tea and Tales on Dursey Island. Take the cable car across and then a guided bus tour with dramatic views and island stories. Tea costs 25 euro and cable car is extra.
A/N: Bean and Grain, chocolate and beer at Clonakilty Brewery. The chocolate will be by Alison of Clonakilty Chocolate and there’ll be lots of pairings. €25.00
EVENING: A Taste of Organico, hosted by Hannah and Rachel Dare who’ll have dozens of their producers on hand including Fermoy Raw Milk, Mary Pawle Wines and Sally Barnes Smokery. Samples galore and even a glass of wine is included in the 5 euro fee. 5.30pm to 8.00pm.
|Welcome to Union Hall Smoked Fish|
Friday Sep 14th
BARGAIN: Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy puts on a brilliant demo, very engaging with his audience, especially the younger ones. See him from 10.00 in Fields of Skibbereen. Free.
OFF PLATE: Live Life Well. A students’ food and lifestyle conference at Skibbereen Community School. From 10.00am to 2.00pm, hear talks, see demos, and sample at the mini-market. All free.
A/N: there’s a tour of the Union Hall Smoked Fish facility at 2.00pm, a lovely family run business. The Nolan's are a generous bunch and they won’t charge you a cent yet, a similar event two years back, there was no shortage of samples and even a glass of wine.
EVENING: Real Food from Here is the title of the event at Macroom’s Castle Hotel where the Buckley family invite you to a dinner featuring real food. Real wine too from Le Caveau with Colm McCan doing the pouring and talking. €60.00 including dinner and wine. Special overnight rate.
|Walking on Sheep's Head|
Saturday Sep 15th
BARGAIN: A 2.5 hour walk on the Sheeps Head with guide Charlie McCarthy (086 2333420). Registration at 11.30am, walk at 12 noon. Meet at the cabin Ahakista.Free
OFF PLATE: Meet at the car park in Barley Cove Hotel on your way to the Three Castle Head Walk, one of West Cork’s hidden gems, with breath-taking views. Starts at 3.30 and duration is 90 minutes. Free. Contact: 0868808190.
A/N: Fish and Whiskey Brunch is the unpriced event at the Glandore Inn with local man Bryan McCarthy doing the cooking and West Cork Distillers supplying the spirit. All proceeds to LauraLynn children’s Hospice and Union Hall Inshore Lifeboat.
EVENING: I suspect that Taste of the Sea at Arundels by the Pier (Ahakista) will sell out fast with Head Chef Dominique Carucci presenting a delicious Taste of the Sea menu. Five courses for €50.00.
BtB: The big spenders can whip out that credit card again as they go to Eat, Drink and Sleep at the Castle, Castletownsend. At 7.00pm, the six course meal, paired with selected wines and beers, will get underway. Slip upstairs much later, wake to a spectacular view of the bay and a hearty breakfast. Cost overall: €220.00 per person.
Sunday Sep 16th.
Still a good share of events on the closing Sunday but undoubtedly the focus will be on the Festival Finalé, the Sunday Street Market in Skibbereen. It starts at noon and as usual there’ll be bands, and dancers, craft, and food to eat and take away and a children’s entertainment area. A superb finalé to a marvellous festival that encompasses over 250 events.
|Reen Pier area|
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Dooks Fine Food. Fethard’s Medieval Walls.
And a call to the Apple Farm.
|Salmon and salads at Dooks in Fethard|
My latest trip to Tipp saw me take a walk along the medieval area of Fethard, lunch in Dooks restaurant, and call to the Apple Farm, near Cahir, on the way home.
People go to Fethard to mostly visit the Coolmore Stud and dine or drink or both in John McCarthy’s famous establishment on the Main Street but I did neither, holding them back for the next trip! McCarthy’s, by the way, is a busy spot. It is one of Ireland’s oldest unchanged pubs, is also a restaurant and, believe it or not, an undertakers. Be careful which menu you ask for.
No such problems at Dooks Fine Food which has a prime position at the bottom of the main street, alongside the Clashawley River, at the junction of the Clonmel and Urlingford roads and opposite a large car park. Richard Gleeson’s restaurant and deli is spacious and bright, lots of local food for you to enjoy inside, or on the seats outside and, of course, at home if you shop at the deli.
|Chicken and salads at Dooks|
Fethard, by the way, is hardly an hour from the east side of Cork city - you have the M8 motorway for the majority of the way and that leaves just about 16 kilometres on secondary roads.Take the Cashel exit and you’ll have no problem finding the little town. And no problem finding Dooks either.
Richard was preparing a large plateful of a colourful Mozzarella salad when we arrived. It was eye-catching and tempting and featured in our lunch, well at least one serving of it. Dooks had opened long before that of course as they do breakfast here, served from 7.30am. Quite a choice including a very interesting looking fry of Rosemary, orange and fennel sausage, oven roasted tomatoes, fried eggs and Dooks white yeast toast.
|The walls of Fethard|
But back to the lunch. My pick was the Roast salmon fillet, with horseradish cream and pickled shallot and that came with my choice of two salads: Roasted aubergine, balsamic reduction, toasted mixed seeds, feta and mint, and the second one of roasted carrots, toasted sunflower seeds, pickled shallots, Dooks ricotta and tarragon. Quite a plateful (for 13.50), full of good stuff, even those seeds a lovely feature.
It was the OBC (official blog chef) who got the delightful cherry tomato, Toonsbridge Mozzarella and basil salad. She also choose the Roasted aubergine and her meat was the Lemon, Garlic and Buttermilk marinated chicken supreme with rocket pesto, another plateful of well cooked produce, well presented and well dispatched.
|North Gate in Fethard|
We did have a look at the short but “well-formed” wine list, spotting some favourites there such as the Bodegas Menade Verdejo from Rueda and the Domaine Chaume Arnaud Vinsobres from the Rhone. But we stuck with the non-alcoholic, a refreshing Sparkling Elderflower by local producers Irish Hedgerow. With the sun beating down outside, we also skipped the coffee and were a little sorry for that omission when we spotted some delightful pastries as we paid at the counter. Next time!
We had walked around the very impressive medieval remains, before lunch, following the long stretch of wall (parts dating from 1292) by the river and moving by the various gates, Water Gate, East Gate and, most impressively, North Gate, also the cluster of two castles and the old Holy Trinity Church (key available at O’Sullivan’s pharmacy).
|The Fethard Town Hall (right)|
|Holy Trinity Church|
The Town Hall has had variations and alterations and various functions since its 16th century beginning and is now in use for tourist purposes. Here too you will find the Fethard Horse Country Experience and from here you may arrange a tour of Coolmore Stud. Check it all out here. I’ll be doing just that the next time I’m in Fethard.
On the way back to Cork, we made a short detour from the M8 to the Apple Farm on the Clonmel road. And stocked up on jams, cider, and fruits, including some of the delicious juicy sweet cherries. It is a busy spot but the drought is taking its toll and plums, we heard, may not be as plentiful as last year when the harvest comes in.
Indeed, a day after our visit, owner Con Traas was tweeting: The last rain fell at our farm on 19/6, a mere 0.2mm drizzle. Since May 11th (2 months to the day) we have recorded 23.2mm total (about a weeks rain here in normal circumstances). We have exceeded the criteria for both absolute drought and partial drought.
I know the constant sun has been great this year but we could do with some rain now! Wonder what the weather was like in Fethard when those Norman builders were hard at it all those centuries ago.
Recent Tipp calls:
Not so recent: