Showing posts with label Wine Geese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine Geese. Show all posts

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hennessy. From Cork to become the beating heart of Cognac.

Hennessy. From Cork to become the beating heart of Cognac.
Hennessy, the giant of Cognac with 40-45% of market share worldwide, were in Ballymaloe last evening. They were represented by Marc Boissonnet, “in an area very dear to Hennessy”, who guided us through three of their brandies: Fine de Cognac, VS (Very Special) and the XO (Extra Old).

Richard Hennessy, the founder of the company, left nearby Killavullen (they still have the house there) with a vibrant entrepreneurial will and spirit and went on to create Hennessy in 1765. Now, some 1700 growers supply grapes to Hennessy and they also partner with 22 local distilleries. It is sold all over the world with USA the number one and China in second spot.
The Fine, first made in 2002 and fine-tuned since, is now in its “final version”. “This is what we wanted for an new generation of consumers, an introduction, though not easy to make.” Last evening it was matched, perfectly, with apricot and goat cheese. Marc also recommended using it in cocktails, with apple, maybe with apple and cranberry.

The VS must, by law, have a minimum of two years aging. “But we do more than respect the law, might be much older in there,” said Marc of the brandy that is very familiar to Irish consumers. “This is a classic”. He advised using it “as a strong beating heart in a cocktail” and said it is “amazing having an oyster with it!”. Last night we had a prune wrapped in Parma Ham and that was very nice indeed.
Ballymaloe's Colm McCann (left) introduces Marc
Marc (right) and yours truly.
The evening, part of the ongoing Wine Geese series, continued with a tasting of the XO, a classic that shows the benefit of time passing, “an exception..when the character settles”. It is still sold in the original bottle, the first decanter type bottle to be produced industrially.

From the Grand and Petit Champagne areas and using new barrels, it gets richer and more intense and increases in smoothness as the years go by. “It is a classic digestif, not just with chocolate but with many puddings, deep, powerful, rich, well balanced,” said Marc and many heads were nodding in agreement as we sipped it along with Ballymaloe Candied Orange Peel dipped in Dark Chocolate. Marc said it is long lasting on the palate, a little bit heavy (deliberately so) and you may enjoy it on the rocks with sparkling water. 

A very informative and enjoyable evening, thanks to Marc, to the crew at Ballymaloe and to the Wine Geese troika (Colm McCann, Beverly Matthews and Maurice O’Mahony) and to the team from Edward Dillon.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wines of the Clare Valley at The Hayfield

It’s a long way from Clare to here

 – wines of the Clare Valley

with John McDonnell at Hayfield Manor Hotel

Next up in the WineGeese series is a wonderful tasting with John McDonnell.

John is one of the legends of the Irish wine scene and has many years of experience in the wine trade, especially in relation to the wines of Australia.
John will talk about winemaking and winemakers in the Clare Valley in Australia and will give a guided tasting of six wines from this beautiful part of the world. John has a wonderful, engaging presentation style and is deeply passionate and knowledgeable about Australian wine so it promises to be a memorable tasting.

A super tasting deserves a super location and where better than the beautiful surroundings of Hayfield Manor.
Booking in advance is highly recommended as this event is expected to sell out very quickly.
Date : Wednesday 18th September 7pm
Venue : Hayfield Manor – Cost €15
Bookings : Contact Michelle Donovan. Events Manager.
Hayfield Manor. Phone (021) 484 5900

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bordeaux Evening at Crawford Art Gallery

Bordeaux Evening at Crawford Art Gallery
Left to right: Pierre Lawton, Colm McCan and Ted Murphy
A Bordeaux evening, that saw wine merchant Pierre Lawton in conversation with Ted Murphy (author “A Kingdom of Wine – the Story of Ireland’s Wine Geese"), drew many to the sculpture gallery of the Crawford on Thursday night. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the ongoing WineGeese series.

It was indeed a very good night for the WineGeese “committee” of Beverly Matthews, Colm McCann and Maurice O’Mahony. Maurice opened the evening: “We dreamt this up in January and now it’s true!”

Ted Murphy, widely credited as the originator of the Wine Geese concept, told us of the Lawton family, in particular how one of Pierre’s direct ancestors, Hugh Lawton, had been mayor of Cork city in 1776.

Four from Bordeaux.
Indeed, the Lawtons had a huge presence in Cork city and county and held many high offices, all the while continuing their trade with their relations in Bordeaux who, via Abraham Lawton, entered the wine business (buying and selling) in the 1700s.

And Ted was enthusiastic that the old trade links and cultural connections between the two Atlantic cities could be reinforced and new ones forged. He announced that UCC is to enter a student exchange programme with Bordeaux. And then showed us a very impressive recent tourist leaflet cum map from Bordeaux detailing the many Irish connections.

He then drew our attention to the nearby John Hogan sculpture of The Drunken Faun who, he joked, had wasted some pretty expensive wine. Indeed, some of the wines that Pierre then introduced do not come cheap but there was no danger of them being wasted! Pierre explained: “Thus is a horizontal tasting. Same vintage but different wines.”

1 – Chateau Clauzet Saint Estephe 2009
2 – Chateau Branaire Ducru Saint Julien 2009
3 – Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac 2009
4 – Chateau Lynch Bages Pauillac 2009

All kinds of wine related topics were touched on, in a light and humorous way, by Pierre, including the ups and downs of buying en primeur, the risks (and rewards!) of playing backgammon with Philippe de Rothschild (wine #3 above) and the Chinese involvement in the wine market.

When we came to the Lynch-Bages, he let us know that a M. Lynch, then Mayor of Bordeaux, once seriously upset a certain Napoleon! Pierre, in a cheeky aside, shared this tip: the taste of Lynch-Bages is close to that of Mouton, but cheaper!
Horizontal tasting!

And the famous Bordeaux bottle? Yes, you’ve guessed it. That was invented by an Irishman (Mitchell) so that bottles could be stacked on their sides. 

Pierre also had a very practical tip for these hot days. To cool wine, drop an ice cube into the glass for a few moments, then remove and taste the difference. 

One got the impression that Pierre is not a lover of some wine critics, particularly those that overly use technical terms. “Enjoy the wine,” he advised. “Don’t be prejudiced by what you read.” Sound advice from a man that knows!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Update on "Bringing the Wine Geese Home" at Fleming's

Susan Boyle.
Reservations can be made with O’Donovans Off Licence Head Office only and are €100 per person.  Tickets are limited to 4 per booking and must be pre-paid.  
Contact Deirdre or Rose on 021-4296060 for details.  
Please note that the event is no longer a Black Tie occasion

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Wine Geese Return in Style!

“The Return of The Wine Geese” Black Tie banquet will bring together wines with an Irish heritage from around the globe with wonderful food in the beautiful Fleming's Restaurant.  
The full line-up of wines that will feature on the night will follow shortly.  Tickets are available from O’Donovans Off Licence Head Office only and are €100. 
Tickets are limited to 4 per booking and are must be pre-paid.  Contact Deirdre or Rose on 021-4296060 for details.

Bringing The Wine Geese Home

Gala Banquest at Flemings Restaurant, Cork City

Saturday 18th May 2013

7.30pm Drinks Reception ~ 8.00pm Seated for Dinner

Pate de Foie Gras
Pate of Foie Gras, served with its own jelly
Tossed leaf salad and melba toast
Conift de Voalille , wonton de Canard
Home smoked chicken ballotine and wonton of duck confit
Served with a compot of fresh orange
Paupiette de sole Limande
Paupiette of sole served with pink grapefruit , served with a light saffron sauce
Sorbet de champagne
Champagne sorbet served with passion fruit and a sweet balsamic glaze
Longe D’agneau roti
Roast Loin of Lamb , ragout of sweetbread and a light rosemary”jus”
Trio de Fromage
Tipperary mature Cashel Blue
West Cork Mileens
Cork Hegary’s cheddar
Tart au Citron, vanilla ice-cream and marinated strawberries

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tomas Clancy: Wine Geese were "on the make"!

Tomas Clancy at The Crawford
We are not impressed.
John Hogan's statue of
William Crawford looms over the wines.
In the Crawford Art Gallery last night, wine lover Tomas Clancy dispelled any romantic notions we might have had held about the early Wine Geese, saying that these Irish were “people on the make”. They had tried it in Ireland and indeed there is some evidence that some left their Irish loves behind for richer pickings abroad, particularly in France: “They married well, mainly to the daughters of the aristocrats, some even to the rich widows.”

In some leisurely moments before the talk, part of the series of Wine Geese events in the Cork area, Tomas had time to wander upstairs in the Gallery and was struck by the juxtaposition of two portraits, one of the merchant and the Lord Mayor of Cork (1776) Hugh Lawton and the other of a stern Roy Keane. Only in Cork. Lawton by the way will feature in another Wine Geese event later in the year.

Colm McCan pours for Ted Murphy
Tomas has visited many of the Wine Geese and says that they love to see the Irish coming all the way to see them; he has found this a common expression around the world whether the winemakers have been in situ for hundreds of years or for just a few decades.

Wine historian Ted Murphy, the inspiration and perspiration behind the international wine museum in Kinsale (well worth a visit), was in the audience. He and Tomas are great friends and Tomas took the opportunity to point out that while many nations have as many and in some cases more wine geese than we have, it was Ted who “brought it all together” mainly through his book The Kingdom of Wine.

Tomas made some terrific points too about how Ireland, for much of the 20th century, shut out many of its famous and very successful exiles as it nurtured its infant sense of nationhood. He reckons now, that the shutters are gone, that it is entirely appropriate to look again at the achievements and the achievers aboard.

“Aer Lingus should use wine geese wines” he stated. And why not, particularly on flights to and from the wine producing countries where we have engaged (most of them!).

Maybe we should even look at characters like the Duke of Wellington, an Irish MP for over 25 years. He too had a wine connection for it was he who secured a large area where Port is made for the British!

On to the wines then and we started with L’Abeille de Fieuzal, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux 2009, but the big story in the whites came with the next bottle, the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2010.

Jim Barrett from Waterford, who started his working life shovelling coal off the back of a lorry and, having been a US marine and lawyer, bought the winery and then had the satisfaction of seeing his 1973 Chardonnay win the famous Judgement of Paris against the best the French could offer.

Something of an interruption then as the time at the Crawford came to an end and, with huge thanks to Victor Murphy of the prize-winning House Cafe in the Opera House next door, we were all accommodated for part two.

Chateau de la Ligne (Bordeaux 2008) was next up. Tomas has been there and said that owner Terry Cross has, among other interesting items in his collection, an enormous Celtic Cross on the estate driveway. The wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, “has another few years to go” and Tomas advised us, while waiting, to get our hands on their Cuvee Prestige (05 or ’06).

The Barton family story is pretty well known so it was no surprise to see of their wines, the Chateau Leoville Barton, St Julien, Bordeaux 2004, included. “Here”, said Tomas, “The Irish roots will never go away”.

But what was the Irish connection with Château Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 2004, the mystery wine? Well, it was Ronald Barton who joined the army in WW2 and ended up in the Lebanon where he got to know the family and helped the chateau in the ways of making fine wines.

And to round it all off there was yet another Irish connection. On arrival, we had been served the El Comandante Chardonnay from Argentina. Founder of this winery was the late Michael Lynch. As a UN officer in Lebanon, he too helped Musar by using some Irish blarney to get their harvested grapes through an Israeli roadblock to the winery, thus saving the vintage.

The wine geese are here, there and everywhere!

Next event: Thursday May 16th at L’Atitude 51 where Fleur McCree of Little Beauty in Marlborough, New Zealand, will retrace her family roots back to Cork.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wine Geese Land at L’Atitude

Wine Geese Land at L’Atitude

Some distinguished wine landed at L’Atitude 51 last evening with Jane Boyce MW in charge of the seven strong group, aided and abetted by Conor O’Brien of James Nicholson Wines .

Jane, a superb commentator all through, kept the best ‘til last: Chateau Langoa Barton 2008 (St Julian, Bordeaux) and Chateau Phelan Segur 2005 (St Estephe, Bordeaux).

Maybe because it has three years on its younger rival and maybe because 2005 was “a fantastic year” most of the audience preferred the Phelan Segur to its “less developed” left bank rival, not that I’d have turned either of these Medoc wines.

You may see the fantastic Phelan story here. The Barton site is under repair, methinks, but there is a terrific account of the Irish family here.

We got off to a great start with a glass of one of the oldest sparkling wines in the world, this from a vineyard started “by a Dutchman and a West Cork lady”: Rives-Blanques Blanquette Limoux 2009 (Limoux, France). Top class, lots of tiny bubbles that kept coming, and half the price of champagne.

Now for an even lighter pink, this time the still rosée from Chateau Vignelaure La Source 2011 (Provence), from a vineyard restored from the ruins about 20 years back by Kathleen and David O’Brien (of the famous horse training family). The current Dutch owners value the Irish connection.

Australia’s Clare Valley is named after the Irish county and provided us with the next wine: Pikes Riesling 2012. Jane explained that, with Riesling, the moment of harvesting is critical, the wine being made more in the vineyard than in the winery. They sure got it right with this one.
There was a County Tyrone connection with the final white, the Domaine Sainte Rose Barrel fermented Roussanne 2009 (Languedoc, France), but there was quite a split in the audience here as quite a few didn’t like the oak. It certainly had the toast and honey but was really well balanced with the “backlash of a spicy hot finish”. Jane recommended matching it with char-grilled food and also smoked salmon and so on.

Alan Brady, a newspaper man from the foothills of the Mourne Mountains is credited with starting Pinot Noir cultivation in New Zealand. He was told he was mad as “this is a very difficult variety to grow”. Last night’s audience, who enjoyed some delicious canapés all through, were glad that Alan stuck with and I think everyone enjoyed the Mount Edward Pinot Noir 2008 from Central Otago in New Zealand.

And then it was on to the splendid conclusion. But as that evening ended the Bringing the Wine Geese committee stayed behind to plan ahead. Some great evenings have already been lined up and many more are in the planning stage, all under the umbrella of The Gathering.

If you have any ideas, big or small, on the Irish wine connection, then why not get in touch. Just to get an idea of what is in the pipeline, please check out the list here.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wine Geese Heading Home

Wine Geese Heading Home
Mezzo soprano Amanda Neary at L'Atitude and,
in B& W, Beverley Matthews, Maurice O'Mahony,
and, at bottom, Tom Lynch (left) and Colm McCann

The Wine Geese are coming home. Watch out for them anywhere between latitude 51 and 52 over the next 12 months.

Indeed, one was present at the gathering in Cork’s wine cafe L’Atitude 51 last night when details of the exciting programme for Bringing the Wine Geese Home were announced by the dedicated troika of Beverly Matthews (L’Atitude 51), Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) and Maurice O’Mahony (Wine Alliance).

Local wine historian Ted Murphy, who assisted in setting up the Wine Museum in Kinsale, is also helping out and indeed his award winning book on the Wine Geese, a Kingdom of Wine, is a big help to the committee and no surprise to see Colm McCann reading from it last evening

Mendoza is the base for the El Commandante Wines and they were well represented by Tom Lynch who treated us to his two lovely easy drinking wines, a Chardonnay and a Malbec.

Tom also told us about another Lynch family (Benegas Lynch) making wine, not too far from Mendoza; these Lynches are related to Che Guevara (the South American El Commandante) and also to the Lynch-Bages of Bordeaux.

By coincidence, the French Chateau Lynch-Bages are one of the early highlights on the Wild Geese programme and their Jean Charles Cazes will be in Ballymaloe March 10th for a tasting and dinner. In October 10th, Ballymaloe will be the venue when Marc Boissonnet hosts a tasting and presentation of Hennessy Cognac.

Another big highlight comes on May 18th with the “Return of the Wild Geese Winefair” organised by Gary O’Donovan. This will bring together wines and winery owners with Irish heritage from around the globe in the Rochestown Park Hotel and will be followed that night by a black-tie dinner in the fabulous Fleming’s Restaurant.

The next event is coming up pretty soon, on February 13th. Jane Boyce (Master of Wine) will present a tasting, including Chateau Phelan-Segur, in association with James Nicholson Wines in L’Atitude.

You may check out the list of events here

Great to meet up with so many of the local wine and restaurant trade last evening. Geraldine was there from Cafe Paradiso and they’ll be hosting Emma Cullen of Cullen Wines (Margaret River) on May 28th while Sandra, sommelier at the Hayfield Manor Hotel, is looking forward to September 12th when their visitor is John McDonnell (Wine Australia), the event entitled “It’s a long way from Clare to here” featuring the wines of the Clare Valley.

Some of our well known Irish wine writers will host events. Thomas Clancy, John Wilson and Leslie Williams have all been lined up. Wine merchants have not been found wanting. Joe Karwig will have at least one event as will Mackenways, Wine Alliance, Curious Wines and O’Donovan’s.

And this cooperation was very evident last evening as the drinks were sponsored, starting with Blanquette de Limoux (thanks to Conor O’Brien of James Nicholson) and followed by Tom’s El Commandante wines. Then Peter Corr of Febvre & Co. treated us to Chateau McCarthy and we finished off on a sweet note thanks to Susie O’Connor of Classic Drinks and their gorgeous Seifried Ice Wine.

Not quite the final note though as that was supplied via the thrilling voice of the gifted Amanda Neary, Ireland’s leading mezzo-soprano, who sang ’O sole mio.

The night was still young and downstairs L’Atitude have a massive board with some fifty wines displayed. Just had to stop and sample and the one I picked and enjoyed was the Sepp Grüner Veltliner from Austria. No Irish connection there as far as I know but good nonetheless.

L’Atitude has gained many loyal customers in its short existence and the upstairs room is ideal for gatherings such as last evening. There will be other smashing venues on the schedule before the year is out.

The committee are negotiating for one special one (no details disclosed!) and other places that will hold Wine Geese Events include Longueville House in Mallow, the Triskel Arts Centre and Isaacs Restaurant (both in the city).

And way out west, there is one that I am looking forward to and that is the summer Food and Wine Extravaganza at Manning’s Emporium in Ballylickey on June 22nd. Val promised that this will have a strong Wine Geese theme. Lovely place, lovely people.

Bringing the Wine Geese Home is incorporated into the Gathering events for 2013 and you may see more details here; details that will be updated regularly.