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Ingenuity & the Bounty - the Seafood & Wine Dinner at Ballycotton’s Bayview Hotel. FEAST 2019 is up and running!
From the Norrie Rancheros via the Octopus’s Garden to the Slocked Apples and Blakas, and all that delicious aromatic Albarino in between, we had quite a ball at Ingenuity & the Bounty - the Seafood & Wine Dinner at Ballycotton’s Bayview Hotel in association with Rias Baixas Spanish Wines and the first major meal of FEAST 2019.
Leslie Williams pointed to the harbour down below as he introduced the wines from the rias. “I love this part of the world. Ballycotton is a perfect place to serve Albarino. It is the most marine wine.” The fruit is grown in the lower estuaries of the long rias (sea inlets) that penetrate this north western region of Spain. Just spread out your fingers with the back of your hand upwards. The gaps between your digits are the rias, the rest (the low ground or baixas) is where the vines, tended mostly by women (the men away in the cities working), grow.
You can see the amazing menu in the photo: so many types of fish included - Crab, Razor Clams, Hake, Eel, Octopus, Mussel, Lobster, St Peter and The Stoner. And from the sea too came Dillisk (for the mayo), Sea Purslane, Samphire and Sea Beet. St Peter’s fish is the John Dory while The Stoner is the rock bass.
A superb meal then with a sweet finish - on the double. The dessert was the Slocked Apples (I know this practice of “hobbling” apples from an orchard as slogging) and Blackas (the local name for Blackberries). When the coffee arrived, so too did some substantial treats as you can see from the photo!
Leslie’s three wines went down well. We started with the Bago Amarelo 2018 by Adegas Galegas. Think we’d all have been quite happy to carry on with that. As a wine expert of my acquaintance declared at a recent tasting: there is no such thing as a bad Albarino.
But, at the Bayview, we found out some Albarinos are better than others! Certainly, the Santiago Roma Albarino 2018 from Bodegas Santiago Roma, while having the typical acidity, was more intense in all aspects than the Amarelo, including texture, aromas and flavours.
I had been expecting the Terras Gauda O Rosal 2018 to be the top wine. But had my doubts after the first sip as the Roma lingered strongly. But soon the O Rosal began to assert itself. It may not have had the forward intensity of the Roma but this more rounded, more sophisticated wine proved itself once again in the long run. No wonder Leslie declared it his favourite Albarino.
This was the first major event of Feast (which started impressively at the Castlemartyr Resort Hotel on the previous day). And Stephen Belton, who manages the Bayview along with its big sister across the way, the Garryvoe, was in fine voice despite cheering on Dublin in Croke Park 24 hours earlier. “I’m delighted with the evening. Thanks to everybody for coming. We’re into our food here but not pretentious about it, very relaxed with our well sourced well cooked offerings. And great to see Feast expanding. There is so much to offer in East Cork now. A fantastic offering that can compare with any other place. East Cork is still emerging and Kevin and company are putting it up on the national stage.”
The Kevin he mentioned is Kevin Aherne of Sage in Midleton and he was next to speak and acknowledged that there was a business element, of course, to the festival, the hope being to attract more visitors to the region. “But this year we want the community of East Cork itself to enjoy it. There are now 40 events, spread over 7 days and it is growing, getting national, even international, press attention. Great for the growers, producers, chefs who enjoy it themselves.”
..with the coffee!
“Ireland is now a benchmark of world food and Cork is the best of that. East Cork is a part of it too and we want you to enjoy yourself. Taste the food. Have a drink. Have a laugh.” Not a bad motto at all and there is loads more to do from here until Sunday. Check out the events here at FEAST
This enjoyable well-made wine, with enough freshness to balance the fruitiness, is made by a family winery in Val do Sainés, a sub region of Rias Baixas which claims to be the birthplace of the popular Albariño grape.
It is said of the family that “they empty the grape of virtue”. Sounds a bit drastic. I think they mean to say they get the best from it.
It has a beautiful mid-gold colour. Peach and pear among the aromas, honeysuckle too. Melon and citrus add to the flavours on the palate; it is round and fresh and has that excellent acidity that makes this versatile wine a winning match with many cuisines, including Asian. A long finish, no shortage of minerality, completes a pleasant experience. Highly Recommended.
Get the best from the wine, empty it of virtue, by making sure it is nicely chilled, ideally between nine and ten degrees celsius. Then you can drink like a monarch! The King of Spain chose Albariño wines to celebrate his marriage to Queen Letizia.
Tour des Gendres Cuvée des Conti Bergerac sec (AOC) 2013, 13%, €17.15 Bradley’s (Cork), Le Caveau
I’m always partial to a Bergerac or Bordeaux white that has more Semillon than Sauvignon blanc and this is the case with this organic white which has 70% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon and 10% Muscadelle.
You might think that this basic entry level wine might not get that much attention. But, in Cork last year, Guillaume de Conti told me this is one that gets full attention. “It bears the family name, and it gets great care so that each vintage is of a high level.” And this, helped by six months on the lees, certainly is. Good value too.
Not too sure of the colour! Tasting was by candlelight during a power cut, glimpses of gold spotted. Quite an intense bouquet though, fruit (white) and floral. It is fruity for sure but acidity is lively too, so well balanced, and there’s a long dry finish. Great purity and intensity and Highly Recommended. The Conti family moved from Italy to France in 1925. In the recently published Wine Revolution, author Jane Aston recommends that you try their "Pét-Nat from 100% Sauvignon Blanc vines, bottled with no added sulphur."
Terras Gauda Abadío de San Campio Albarino, Rías Baixas (DO) 2014, 12%, €20.35 Le Caveau
Thought to be related to Riesling and presumably brought by Cluny monks to 12th century Iberia, via France, the recently fashionable Albarino grape is now mainly associated with Rías Baixas in north western Spain. It is also grown in neighbouring areas in Portugal where it is known as Alvarinho.
I was expecting good things in this bottle and I got them, even better than anticipated. Colour is mid-gold, bright and clean and there is no shortage of white fruits in the aromas. On the palate, it is bright and fruity, citrus in the tingle, minerality to the fore, a superb combination overall and that includes the long finish. Ticks all the boxes for a classy Albarino and is Very Highly Recommended.
The producers say it is ideal with seafood, shellfish and fish and especially with Tuna steaks.
Elgin Ridge 282 Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa 2014, 14%, €19.95 Le Caveau
At 282 metres above sea-level, we are at the ideal height to create cool climate Sauvignon Blanc in the Elgin Valley. The organic farming methods give the wine its elegance and unique flavour.
So says Marion Smith, ex Ballyjamesduff, who now runs the winery with her husband Brian. By the way, Dexter cattle, a native Irish breed, figure in the organic farming, grazing between the rows of vines and indeed Marion has the biggest herd of Dexter in the Western Cape.
Dexters aren’t the only “helpers” for Marion and Brian, who planted their first vines here in 2007. They also use Dorper sheep, chickens and Peking ducks to control the weeds and pests. Looks like the combination is working very well indeed.
Colour is a medium-gold with green tints. The aromas are fresh and cool. That freshness extends to the palate, tingly with concentrated white fruit, including gooseberry, citrus also prominent, pepper and spice too and then an excellent finish. Highly Recommended.
Grapes are hand-picked and indeed the vinification is focussed on “preserving the natural fruit”. This is facilitated by natural and gentle fining and slow cool fermentation. As usual Carl Ehrhard gets it right.
Colour is pale gold with greenish tints and you'll note micro bubbles clinging to the glass. Aromas are a gentle mix of apple and citrus. It tingles the palate; the intense fruit, now with more than a hint of grapefruit, and a super refreshing acidity combine well all the way to a long finish. This dry wine is Very Highly Recommended. Perfect for aperitif and with seafood and Riesling is regularly recommended for Asian.
The annual SuperValu Christmas showcase gets underway tomorrow, 24th of November, and here are three reds (from many) to watch out for. My top three consist of an Italian style Shiraz from Australia, a lovely food-friendly Sangiovese from Tuscany and a delicious Rioja to try with the red meats, leg of lamb in particular. Cheers!
The dried grape technique is borrowed from Italy. It is used mainly to increase concentration. Five days then in contact with the skins before going on to spend 12 months in French and US oak. It comes in a noticeably heavy bottle!
Darkly coloured (garnet), it is lighter towards the rim. It has very inviting fruit aromas, cherry and plum. And the velvety palate is certainly concentrated, complex deep flavours (that cherry again), some spice too; quite intense; excellent acidity too and it has a long finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Vanilla is prominent in the aromas of this Highly Recommended medium red; darker fruits there too. On the palate, it is smooth and fruity (cherries and plums), drifts of spice too, plus that quintessential acidity (almost an ever-present in Italian wines), and fine sweet tannins make it a pleasure in the mouth and the dry finish ain't bad either. Great value.
The producers aim has been to use the best Sangiovese grapes “to produce a Tuscan red dominated by fruity and spice notes, typical of the grape”. This worthy effort may be enjoyed with red meats and pasta dishes.
Pagos de Labarca AEX Rioja (DOC) 2011, 14.5%, €22.99 (18.00 from 24th Nov) SuperValu
Vanilla for sure in the complex nose but fruit shines through as well in this dark cherry red. That excellent balance is also noted on the smooth palate, tannins close to fine, plus some spice too, fruit and wood are well integrated and then follows a long and juicy finish with the dark fruit and vanilla still in harmony. Highly Recommended.
Bodega Covila, a co-op in Alavesa, regard this, rightly I think, as a Premium wine. It is a limited edition, just 6,400 bottles. It has excellent acidity and should be a good match for roast leg of lamb (no mint sauce though!), a match to repel the December chill and reinforce the Christmas cheer.
All Right With SuperValu Whites
Coopers Creek Dillons Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough (New Zealand), 12.5%, €14.99 (12.00 from 3.11) SuperValu
Best enjoyed young and fresh, say Coopers. So let's get at this Dillons, part of their Select Vineyards series. It is light gold in colour with white fruit aromas (gooseberry, lime and peach in the mix). A power of flavour on the intense palate, balanced by a delicious acidity. Young and fresh it comes with a reverberating finish. Not to be left on the shelf. Highly Recommended.
Liked the colour of this immediately, an inviting medium gold. It is hand-harvested and ideal with shellfish and fish and also recommended for lightly spiced Asian chicken dishes. The medium intense aromas are of white fruit. It has a smooth character on the palate, intense fruit (pear, apple and peach) with refreshing minerality. It is zesty and well balanced and Highly Recommended.
Domaine Les Guignottes, Les Resses Montagny 1er Cru 2014, 13%, €24.99 (€20.00 from 24/11) SuperValu
Not too much to say about this - just go out and buy and enjoy! This classic Chardonnay has beautiful intense white fruit aromas, peach the most prominent. Colour is a bright gold and there are amazing fruit and nut flavours, some spice too. The acidity too is outstanding. Fresh, with a gorgeous mouthfeel and a long finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Albariño. Wine of the Celtic Fringe and the Spanish King.
Albariño, from the green lands of Galicia, has become a very popular wine in recent years. Across the River Mino, the Portuguese call it Alvarinho and use it as the major component (sometimes the only grape) in Vinho Verde.
The Rias Baixas wine region of Galicia, where the indented coastline is a major feature of this Celtic fringe of Spain, is the home of Albariño, and there are a number of sub zones. Condado do Tea is the warmest and this is where the Senorio de Rubios comes from, while the Segrel and the Codax are from the cooler and wetter Val do Salnes. O Rosal is another sub zone, to the south west. Here, you could do worse than look out for Terras Gauda.
I was lucky enough to win three of the wines below (the Codax is the exception) in a pre-Christmas online competition run by Food and Wine from Spain (Ireland)and they invited me to drink like a king! The King of Spain chose Albariño wines to celebrate his marriage.
With its aromas of honeysuckle, citrus, ripe melon, peach, pear, among other exotic fruits, it is the perfect drink to enjoy with friends during the summer. But not bad in the middle of winter either, as I found out these past few days.
It pairs well with a wide range of cuisines and Food and Wine from Spain tell me it “works fantastically with Indian, Asian and Mexican food”.
“The hand picked grapes that go into Albariño wines are carefully tended to by the winemakers in Rias Baixas. Over half these winemakers are women, representing the highest figure of female producers in any wine producing region.”
Finest Wines of Rioja (2011) debunked a popular misconception that these wines are meant to be drunk within one year of the vintage. “..a quality Albariño, bottled during the the first spring after harvest, with a balanced structure relying on fresh acidity and a good mineral character, will be at its best after its second spring and will continue growing in bottle for some years.”
Tetella cheese (DO)
In Grapes and Wines (Oz Clarke & Margaret Rand), Albariño is hailed as the grape that “brings flavour in bucketfuls to the white wines of northwestern Iberia”. And they go on to tell us that Albariño is “by far Spain’s most fashionable white variety, particularly when grown in Rias Baixas..”
The coastal landscape is neatly summed up in the World Atlas of Wine: “..the landscape is exceptional for Spain: irregular Atlantic inlets called rías, which are effectively shallow fjords, lined with hills that are densely forested with local pine and rapacious eucalyptus imported in the 1950s.” The green Spain.
Did a fair bit of reading from authoritative sources for this post and most seem to agree that three of the top producers are: Fillaboa (imported by Wines Direct), Le Val and Pazo de Senorans (O’Brien’s).
Segrel Ambar Albariño 2014, 12.5%
Bright gold in colour, it has intense aromas (fruity, floral, and definity herbaceous). It is not shy on the palate either. The intense fruit is immediately obvious as is its viscosity. That fruit though is well balanced by the acidity and then it also has a superb elegant finish. A super Albariño and Very Highly Recommended. If you like a “bold” wine go for this one, if you prefer something more restrained then try the Mario Sanzo. You might need to try both to be sure!
Segrel is the name given to a travelling medieval poet and this wine, in its Burgundy bottle, is indeed harmonious, a most pleasant balance of flavour and acidity. May have the edge on the Senorio de Rubios.
Imported by Woods Wines Ltd.
Mario Sanzo Albariño 2014, 12.5%.
Bright in the glass with a pale gold colour. Similar to the Segrel Ambar even if not quite as intense, it has a very pleasant aroma combination of fruit, floral and herbaceous notes. Viscosity feels a bit above average. Full bodied, mineral and fruity, with a stronger acidity at play here, perhaps reflecting the proximity of the vineyard to the bracing Atlantic. Overall, it is very well balanced indeed, a very refreshing wine, restrained and refined and Very Highly Recommended.
Sanzo are hardly a typical Rias Baixas producer in that they produce wines all across Spain, even in Portugal.
SEÑORÍO DE RUBIÓS ALBARIÑO
Señorío De Rubiós Albariño 2013, 12.5%,
Got off to a poor start with this one!
My three bottles were accompanied by a Spanish cows milk cheese, called Tetella, and I paired the two, thinking that since both were from Galicia, they would match well. I thought I was on a winner but it didn't work. Not a win, win! Just the opposite. Yet, a quick separation later and I had two winners. The unusually shaped cheese is mild and pleasant to eat. It can be enclosed in the local roasted peppers (there was a jar in the hamper!) or used with a little bit of relish (such as the redcurrant and port wine by Lakeshore).
The wine, with its healthy looking light gold colour (tints of green there too), was superb on its own. It has attractive aromas with both floral and fruit elements. On the palate it is fresh, full of white fruit flavours, terrific structure and viscosity and a long dry minerally finish. Excellent and Highly Recommended. Seen this at €16.99 online at the Black Pig Dublin
Martin Codax Albariño2013, 12.5%, €16.70 Karwig Wines
A lovely light gold is the colour here. Aromas are intense, not quite as much as the Segrel though the same elements - floral, fruity, herbaceous - are all present. No shortage of citrus-y fruits on the palate, quite a bracing acidity here and then that long minerally finish. Ideal for those Atlantic shellfish and Highly Recommended.
Below, I have added the winery’s tasting notes. Do you like the names of their three steps?
"The Martin Codax winery, named after one of the most important medieval Galician troubadours, was founded in 1986 thanks to the idea of a group of winegrowers; as a winery made by people for the people. Set up by 270 members, the winery also relies on the collaboration of 300 families whose grapes are supplied to us. As a big family, we work together in order to ensure our wines have the highest possible quality."
Clean, bright lemon yellow with greenish reflections
Medium intensity with ripe citrus notes file type and tangerine. Predominant note floral (hawthorn, jasmine and orange blossom) and a herbal background type hay.
Envelope, fresh and good balance. The aftertaste reminds the note of ripe citrus.