Showing posts with label Mary Pawle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Pawle. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Spanish Duo with Mary Pawle Wines


Azul y Garanza Desierto Navarra (DO) 2012, 14.5%, €39.00 Mary Pawle

The Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert natural region, or badlands, of some 42,000 hectares in southeast Navarre. The soils are made up of clay, chalk and sandstone and have been eroded by water and wind creating surprising shapes, canyons, plateaus, tabular structures and isolated hills, called cabezos. 

This superb wine is named after the desert. Yet the vineyard itself is the exact opposite of a desert. They have planted different species of vegetation, such as aromatic plants, shrubs, and fruit trees (the greater the assortment, the better), but using only indigenous varieties. The vines occupy just 37% of the total available land area. Mono-crop cultivation is avoided; there is room and shelter for all kinds of life.

And here, in Ribera Alta, a warm area as you can imagine,  they produce this 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. Colour is an intense ruby, the legs slow to clear. Aromas are of ripe dark fruit, plums, blackberries included, also notes of vanilla. Deep and dark flavours in the full bodied wine, dense, touch of spice, warming, powerful and smooth with a long and very satisfying finish. A superb wine and Very Highly Recommended.

“Wild-natured vines, full of biodiversity and astonishingly beautiful; organic and endowed with special faculties which result in one-of-a-kind wines. Wines which are a clear reflection of the place they come from.” And the purity of the nearby desert gives the vineyard the advantageous pathway to produce this bio wine without too much trouble. Perhaps the biggest human intervention is its 15 months in French oak.

Navarra, for a long time now, has been criticised for its use of French grapes but, according to Wine-Searcher, “is beginning to attract attention for its high quality red wines made mainly from the Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape varieties after years of being overshadowed by its southern neighbor, Rioja".

Founded in the year 2000 by Fernando Barrena Belzunegui, Azul y Garanza is a family winery, located in Carcastillo, with its own vineyards in the area called La Cañada de los Roncaleses, at the entrance to the extraordinary desert of the Bardenas Reales, the largest in Europe. . Thanks to this location, the vineyards enjoy ideal conditions for obtaining quality grapes: a very poor soil and an extremely dry climate, with strong thermal contrasts between day and night. The winery continues, since its inception, the principles of organic farming.



Osoti Crianza Rioja (DOC) 2013, 14%, €17.50 Mary Pawle Wines

Quite an exceptional blend of Tempranillo (85%) and Graciano organically grown grapes. It has a deep cherry colour, tears slow to go. Rich fruity aromas plus hints of the oak. Fruity and very very dry. Red and darker fruits feature in a power-packed palate and that keen acidity balances it all nicely. And no slackening off at all in the persistent finish. Very satisfactory rounded wine and Very Highly Recommended.

The wine has been aged in barrels for 12 months. Sediment spotted, so probably best to decant.

A few sentences from the website that I like:
“We continue the ritual that has not changed in thousands of years. The grapes are picked by hand and taken to the winery with care, as if they were treasure.
We put the wine in oak barrels where they wait in silence, at the correct temperature, until they turn into a wine that condenses the meaning of La Rioja in a bottle.”



"We take advantage of other herbs and plants to protect the vines and enrich them."

Monday, January 7, 2019

Mary Presents Another Excellent Double!


Ferraton “Calendes” Rouge 2015, Crozes-Hermitage (AOC), 13.5% abv, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

Calendes is the name for the day of the new moon and an indication of time passing, an indication also that the winemaker is guided by the lunar cycles. This Biodynamic wine is one hundred per cent Syrah. The barrel ageing (20 to 30% in new oak) lasts about 12 to 14 months depending on the vintage.

It has a deep ruby colour. Ripe red fruits on the nose. Smooth and rich too on the palate with a strong waft of spice; it is ample and generous with delicate tannins and a slight hint of vanilla and the lengthy finalé also features ripe fruity notes and spices. 

They advise decanting about one hour in advance; must admit I didn’t do that. Serve at 16-18 degrees. Wines from Hermitage itself are of course the most sought after in this Northern Rhone area but you can find some good ones too in the much larger Croze-Hermitage and this is one of them. Very Highly Recommended.

According to an official Inter-Rhone information booklet, these reds in their youth combine well with delicatessen meat, lamb or roasted guinea fowl. On maturity they are the perfect accompaniment to casseroles, coq au vin, rich beef stew, beef in red wine etc. 

La Marouette Blanc Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 12.5%, €13.50 Mary Pawle.
Sans sulfite ajouté is proudly displayed on the front label of this organic wine, one hundred per cent Chardonnay and new to the Mary Pawle list. Mary says this is “eagerly awaited” with pleasing aromas of pineapple and honey. Well rounded and supple in the mouth and a good match with fish, chicken or salad dishes. 

It is produced in the heart of the Pays d'Oc in the South of France. The vinification is done at low temperature for a good conservation of the aromas. Jacques Frelin Vignobles, formerly La Maison des Terroirs Vivants, is a major French player in organic wine.

It has a lovely light to mid-gold colour. The aromas, gentle tropical fruit, are reasonably intense. And there’s a similar persistent intensity on the palate, pineapple to the fore, fresh and with a delicately buttered body and the finish is good too. Highly Recommended. Good value also by the way. Serve between eight and ten degrees. Ideal as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to fish or shellfish.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas Couples. One White. One Red.


Christmas Couples




A couple of bottles of wine, one red, one white, can go a long way at the Christmas meal. Lots of lovely couples below!







Karwig Double

Cunas Davia Ribeiro (DO) 2016, €21.15 Karwig Wine
It has a light straw colour. And a lovely intense nose where floral and herbal notes mingle with ripe white fruits. Rich, long and balanced on the palate, fruit and fresh acidity in perfect harmony and there is a long citrus led finalé. A pleasure!

Herdade Do Esporão Quatro Castas, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2014, €20.95 Karwig Wine
This deep ruby red wine has concentrated red fruit aromas, also a little spice and a little vanilla. Fresh, fruity and spicy on the palate with a very acceptable balance. Lovely mouthfeel and long finish. Just another beauty from this area of Portugal and Very Highly Recommended.

Two from South Africa

Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red 2016 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online

Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap White 2014 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online

This James Nicholson red is a very popular wine and you’ll see it on quite a few restaurant lists. It is a dark ruby colour, the legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits (plums, blackberries) feature in the enticing aromas, also a touch of vanilla. That fruit is also there on the vibrant palate, a drift of spice too, smooth with silky tannins, well balanced and with an excellent finish.

It is mainly Syrah (86%) and the other grapes in the blend are Mourvèdre (13) and Viognier (1). It is fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak prior to blending and bottling.

The Wolftrap white was accorded Superquaffer of the Year by the prestigious Platter's Guide to South African Wine.

It is an unusual blend of Viognier 48% (for spice), Chenin Blanc 41% (melon) and Grenache Blanc 11% (white peach), all contributing to the experience. The different grapes are fermented and aged partially in French oak before blending and bottling. 

It has a very clean light yellow colour with green tints. Pleasant white/yellow fruits, plus floral notes, feature in the inviting aromas. Fresh and fruity, unexpected depth in this elegant body, a lively acidity all through and then a lip-smacking finish.

Two from Portugal

Herdade do Peso Trinca Bolotas Alentejo (DOC) 2016, 14%, RRP € 19.99 wineonline.ie

It’s a vinho tinto (red wine), a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo). It has a vibrant mid ruby colour and intense ripe berry aromas. Fruity and dry, full-bodied, very well balanced with a prolonged finish. Thanks to the equilibrium of tannins, acidity and fruit, this is an excellent food wine and Very Highly Recommended.

After malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to French and Caucasian oak barrels, where they are matured for around six months. To maintain its high quality, the wines are bottled without cold stabilisation. It may thus throw a slight deposit during bottle-ageing.

Herdade do Peso Sossego Branco Alentejano (IG) 2016, 13%, 
RRP €16.99, Matson Wine Store 

The local tranquility wasn’t too bad either as I opened the Sossego with its light yellow colour and tints of green. Scents of citrus fruit and blossoms, more floral than fruity, enhance the mood. Lively and fresh on the palate, the fruit flavours are balanced by excellent acidity and a good dry finish follows. Refreshing and flavourful. 

The grapes used by winemaker Luis Cabral de Almeida were 75% Antão Vaz, 20% Arinto, 5% Roupeiro. This may be enjoyed on its own or as an aperitif. It pairs wonderfully with various fish dishes, some white meats and an array of salads. 

Australian Pair 

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. 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 it 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.

Spanish Couple

Dominio de Punctum Finca Fabian Verdejo Castilla (Vino de la Terra) 2016, 12.5%, €12.20, Mary Pawle Wines


This Verdejo is made  from organically grown grapes, night harvested and cold maceration before fermenting. Colour is straw yellow, bright and clear and there are white fruits in the aromas, floral notes too.

It is fresh and a little livelier than many Verdejos, excellent fruit flavours and balancing acidity. A lovely drop indeed with a long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended. Good value also, by the way. 

Punctum Viento Aliseo La Mancha (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €13.30 Mary Pawle Wines

This joven (young) wine is a blend of Tempranillo (70%) and Petit Verdot. Organically and biodynamically farmed (Demeter approved) and made from “our estate-grown grapes”.

Cherry is the colour. Cherries and blackberries feature in the aromas. And the same fruit too on the full and smooth palate, matched by a lively acidity, the tannins just about in evidence. Quite complex for a joven and Highly Recommended. Good value also.

Gary’s Pair

Haven’t tasted these in quite a while but must say I like the look of this pair from the excellent Luis Canas at Gary O’Donovan’s. The red is the Madurado Tempranillo/Garnacha while the white is Viura/Malvasia. Both are 2017 and the total cost of the presentation two-pack is €25.00. 

The white blend is dense and unctuous on the palate, with a good balance between acidity and alcohol. The aftertaste brings notes of ripe fruit and minerality.

The red blend has spent 12 months in oak, is fruity on the nose, all enveloping on the palate while it finishes well with fruit and acidity.

Duo from O'Brien's

Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €21.95 (was 24.95).

The grapes are grown high up in circles around the top of the craters on Santorini, one of the Greek islands. Sometimes wines from hot climates lack acidity, but that is not the case here. Try it with shellfish, also smoked fish. The grapes are soaked on the skins after crushing for a long period. This gives the wines their excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Well worth a try!

d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz Australia, 19.95 
Colour is a clean and bright purple. No need to nose the glass here as the aromas - attractive dark berries and plums mainly - come up to meet you. Terrific fruit too on the palate with great balance, tannins are fine, lovely and a lingering dry finish. Footbolt is a favourite here and Very Highly Recommended.


The Odd Couple

Elgin Ridge 232 Sauvignon Blanc South Africa (from Le Caveau).
Decanter praise: vibrant, at once savoury and saline, yet ripe and tropical. 

Made by Brian and Marion Smith. Marion’s from Cavan. I’ve sampled this a few times and have a bottle in the house for the festivities. Well worth a try.

Winzer Krems Blauer Zweigelt “St Severin” trocken (Austria) 13%, €14.45 Karwig Wines

This well-priced quality red wine has gorgeous and intense fruit aromas. Also engaging red fruit flavours (cherries, berries, redcurrants), a touch of spice, full bodied and quite dry to the finalé. This is easy drinking, light and bright, not unlike Pinot Noir.

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.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Three Very Highly Recommended European Wines


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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Excellent Portuguese Reds. + Wine Briefs


Herdade do Peso Trinca Bolotas Alentejo (DOC) 2016, 14%, RRP € 19.99 wineonline.ie

It’s a vinho tinto (red wine), a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo). It has a vibrant mid ruby colour and intense ripe berry aromas. Fruity and dry, full-bodied, very well balanced with a prolonged finish. Thanks to the equilibrium of tannins, acidity and fruit, this is an excellent food wine and Very Highly Recommended.

After malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to French and Caucasian oak barrels, where they are matured for around six months. To maintain its high quality, the wines are bottled without cold stabilisation. It may thus throw a slight deposit during bottle-ageing.

Serve: Trinca Bolotas Red should be served at between 16ºC-18ºC.

I read the story of the local pigs on the bottle label: This pig is part of the "Porto Preto" breed, and meat from this pig is called black pork (pata negra i.e. black hoof). During the fattening-up phase, these pigs, which have never been crossbred, roam freely over the countryside and eat the acorns of holm oaks and seeds of cork oaks that are native to the area. The acorns are the secret that makes these pigs so special. The Alentejo pig or black pig (porco alentejano, porco preto) is a native of Portugal, the only surviving species of grazing pig in Europe. It is a gastronomic treasure, part of local cuisine since time immemorial. See more on the ham here.

The Alentejo pigs are classed as Iberian and therefore may be used to make the much desired Iberico ham (of which the Bellota is the highest standard of quality). So the Iberian pig is not exclusively Spanish. And if you can get your hands on the Portuguese ham, you know where to get a lovely wine to match it!

Casa Ferreirinha Esteva Douro (AOC) 2016, 12.5%, RRP €14.99, Stockists include JJ O’Driscoll Cork, The Cinnamon Cottage Cork, Bradley’s Cork, winesonline.ie


Mid ruby is the colour of this Highly Recommended Portuguese wine. Intense aromas feature fruits and floral plus a hint of spice. Light red fruits too and again some spice on the harmonious palate with polished tannins a benign factor. There is good acidity and the finish is long and dry. 

It is a welcome wine at the table. You could well come across it on restaurant lists - I enjoyed it recently at Killarney’s Great Southern - if you do see it, go for this easy drinking example of Douro reds.
Like many Portuguese wines, this is a blend and the grape varieties are Tinta Roriz (40%), Tinta Barroca (35), Touriga Franca (15) and Touriga Nacional (10).

Wine Briefs


Red Nose Wine
"We will keep this simple and tell you that we have added 10 more wines to the special 25-30% Offer wines and we even left a few from the last list on. You can see what wines are now on sale ( they include Mirabello Pinot Grigio, Gassac Picpoul30 Mile Shiraz, Chateau ValcombeBordeaux  and many more ) 

Lots open for tasting and don't forget, the Ladder SALE is still on until the end of the month

Beautiful Wines at Beautiful Prices."

+++++++++++++
Chateau Feely is a winery in Saussignac, a winery with an Irish interest. The excellent wines are imported by Mary Pawle. 

News from Chateau Feely https://chateaufeely.com/

Harvest 2018 took place under gorgeous Indian summer conditions. The good weather meant no need to rush and perfect timing for all the wines. Quality is excellent and quantity is more than last year's frost affected vintage but not as much as 2016. Read on for news of this happy harvest, the early season tour and course schedule, accommodation and more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Different Worlds but Two Superb Red Wines


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, September 26, 2018

Three Highly Recommended Whites from across Europe


Gitton de la Vigne du Taureau Sauvignon Blanc Couteaux du Giennois (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €19.50 Karwig Wines

Giennois is one of the lesser-known appellations in the Loire area, but it is just a few kilometres north of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. This crisp Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t let the neighbours down, far from it. It suits perfectly seafood and grilled fish, goats cheese too.

Colour is a light straw with green tints. It is moderately aromatic, white fruit, floral notes too and minerality. That distinctive minerality is immediately obvious on the palate where the excellent white fruit flavours (citrus prominent) combine well with a super acidity for a refreshing drop that also finishes well. Highly Recommended.


Diwald Fucksentanz Riesling Wagram (Austria) 2016, 12%, €18.30 Mary Pawle Wines

Diwald are regarded as pioneers of organic wine in the Wagram region and they interfere as little as possible in the cellar. Winemaker Martin Diwald has called this wine “a typical cheeky Riesling of the Wagram region". Just in case you were wondering, Fucksentanz, the name of the wine, translates as fox dance.

Colour is a light gold, bright and clear. There are rich and fairly complex aromas: pear and peach, notes of honey, floral too. There is a tingly sensation on introduction to the palate. The fruit is pure, outstandingly fresh with exuberant acidity, exquisite balance with a long lip-smacking finalé. Minerality and character help make this Highly Recommended.

Amastuola Bianco Salento Italy (IGP) 2015, 12.5%, €13.69 Mary Pawle Wines

Fiano and Malvasia are the grapes used to make this Italian white. Production is organic with “a strong propensity for innovation, sensitive to the environment, culture and knowledge” The wine has been vinified and aged in stainless steel.

Light straw is the colour. There is an interesting melange of scents, white fruit combined with herb and floral notes. It is smooth and fresh, excellent mouthfeel, superbly balanced and with a persistent finish, the fruit still going strong. Highly Recommended and good value too by the way.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Best Pilgrim’s Meal? Rosscarbery. Not Roncesvalles.


The Best Pilgrim’s Meal?
Rosscarbery. Not Roncesvalles.
Tomatoes with Toonsbridge Burrata. And much more!
If you’re on the Camino, on the way to Santiago di Compostela, you will enjoy a Pilgrim’s Meal or two. But no need to go so far. 


Just get down to Rosscarbery to the Pilgrim’s Restaurant in the West Cork village, and you’ll enjoy one of the best meals ever. That has been my experience on a couple of occasions now. The dinner here in this modest 35 seater is superb, the produce sourced and cooked by Mark Jennings, brought together in a splendid serving, is more enjoyable than many highly touted tasting menus.

I know many of us love to check out the menus before we go. Not possible here! They wait until the day, to see what’s best from the fields and hedges, what has come in on the fishing boats, before posting the menu on the restaurant windows shortly ahead of opening. Still, if you check the website here, you will be able to see one or two recent menus and that will give you a good idea.

Roast aubergine, lamb's liver......



Provenance is hugely important here. There are dozens of suppliers listed on the back of the menu, some of them well known such as the local Bushy’s strawberries and Toonsbridge Dairy, others you’ve probably never heard of like Radical Roots from Leap and Ardfield Mountain Honey.

The menu is not long, about three choices under each of the usual headings. Usual headings but not usual dishes. How about a “nibble” of Tatsuta age, ponzu? We enjoyed that, a Japanese style chicken dish, the chicken moist under the crispy coating. Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with some of the ingredients - they will proactively explain everything to you in a gentle courteous way, without any fuss at all.

After sharing that delicious chicken, we moved on and shared everything else as well! One starter was Roast aubergine, lamb’s liver and tongue, flat bean, cabbage, radish and chilli-sesame oil, basil. Well used to lamb’s liver here but never anything like this in an outstanding ensemble of flavour and texture.



Hake stuffed squash flowers

And on it went. The other starter, if along more expected lines, was also a gem and consisted of Mike’s tomatoes, Toonsbridge burrata, cucumber, brined summer pickles, bay oil, and kale crisp.

They have some gorgeous European wines here. We were wondering what would go best especially since we were sharing. We settled on the Austrian Diwald Grossridenthaler Löss Grüner Veltliner. I always find the GV a very versatile wine indeed and so it proved once again. Most wines here, if not all, are organic.

Time now for the mains. The most spectacular was probably the Battered Hake stuffed squash flowers, prawns, tomato lemon verbena broth, and flat beans. Looked well but tasted even better.


Pudding

Our other mains was the equally satisfying 12-hour Pork belly, wilted greens, potato mash, pickled apple, blackberry, and crackling salt.

Tatsuta age, a nibble
Choices for the finalé include Ices, Puddings, and Cheese. That cheese by the way was the Baked Corleggy Cavanbert. Tempted yes but we left it for another day.

Instead we picked one from Ices: the Macroom Buffalo ricotta ice-cream, Red Star Espresso, Salted Honeycomb. Very enjoyable and our second was rather special, a pudding consisting of Salt Caramel set custard, black pepper chocolate grenache, whipped crème fraiche, and cacao nut crumble sound magnificent.

* Roncesvalles is a Spanish town in the Pyrenees just over the border from France and on the Camino (Santiago is still over 700 kms away).  I drove in there a few years ago from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and asked for the Pilgrim’s Meal. But I was a few hours too early - they serve it only in the evening - and had to settle for a sandwich.




Pilgrim’s Restaurant
South Square
Rosscarberry
Co. Cork

Bookings by telephone only: (023) 88 31796


Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Taste of West Cork Festival. A Personal Selection of the September Events.


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 hereSomething for everyone. Take your pick and enjoy! 

Baltimore

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
Sherkin Island

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.
BtB: ——
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
BtB: —-


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.
BtB: ——
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.
BtB: ——
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