Showing posts with label WineGeese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WineGeese. Show all posts

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Gaggle of Wine Geese at BT. Last of 2013 Events

Happy Gaggle of Wine Geese at BT

Last of 2013 Events

The last of the 2013 Winegeese events, celebrating Irish connections to the wine industry worldwide, was one of the best. Last night, at the Ballymaloe Pop-up Wine Shop in Brown Thomas, Limerick’s Dermot Sugrue of Wiston Wines in the South Downs and Wicklow winemaker Simon Tyrrell in the South Rhone were the stars of the evening, delightfully hosted by John Wilson of the Irish Times.

John’s well judged interventions were sprinkled with some wine wit by Cork’s own Maurice Healy, an ex Christian Brothers pupil, then a barrister and author. Healy, born here in 1887, moved to London after WW1 and it was there that his interest in wine flourished. Besides writing (often rather wickedly) on the subject, he also contributed to radio programmes and indeed Winston Churchill was one of his fans.

Dermot Sugrue started the evening, and a lovely one it was, with his own wine: Sugrue Pierre. He dabbled in beer and wine at home in Limerick as an adolescent before going to learn the ropes at Plumpton College in the UK. He started his wine making career at the famous Nyetimer, also in the UK.
Dermot with Ted Murphy
In 2006, he decided to leave in order to fulfil his ambition of establishing a new winery in West Sussex, in collaboration with the Wiston Estate's Harry & Pip Goring. This wine though is his own, a blend of the classic champagne grapes, and awarded an unprecedented 96 points, the highest ever for an English Sparkling wine. It is a gem for sure.

He was at pains to point out that while the English wine is similar to champagne the local winemakers are all keen to stress that it is essentially an English sparkling wine, with its own character, and not a mere copy. They are to some degree helped by the natural conditions which results in low yields and very high concentration.

This was all underlined with his next wine, the 2011 Wiston Sparkling Rosé. This, newly released and in a miniscule quantity (compared to the big houses), had “great flavour, great intensity, all from a great year”.
Simon making a point!
Simon Tyrrell didn’t admit to any adolescent attempts at beer or wine making but he too ended up at Plumpton College before he and wife Emma set up their own wine importing business in Ireland in 2003, Tyrrell and Company.

Simon has a particular focus on the Rhone valley and it was there that he eventually achieved his ambition to do more than buy and sell wine and began to make his own. And the wine he showed last evening was the one he wanted to make, a good simple Cote du Rhone: Les Deux Cols “Cuvée d’Alizé” 2012.

Made with a blend of 55% Grenache 35 Syrah and 10 Cinsault, it is simply very good with a “great savoury balance”. Might well be one for the Christmas dinner. John Wilson wrote of the 2011 bottle: “An exceptional wine for the price, with wonderful fresh but rounded dark berry fruits, herbs and black olives. It has the substance to stand up to the full range of flavours but won’t dominate proceedings.”
John Wilson enjoying the craic.
John Wilson himself didn’t come empty handed. His first wine was the 2009 L’Abbeille de Fieuzal (Pessac Leognan), the second wine of the estate. Second wine but not second class. Made with 60% Merlot, 33 Cabernet Sauvignon and 7 Cabernet France, it “is a very good example of the vintage”.

Then we moved on to the Barton family and John told the story of a tasting he attended there where the big dog invariably tried to catch the spit of wine bound for the free standing spittoon on the floor of the tasting room. Wonder if that dog stayed sober.

Any dog that strayed into BT last evening would have left thirsty as we tasted the first Barton, the L’Impression de Mauvesin Barton, a lovely Medoc mix of mainly Merlot,with the two Cabernet grapes. And that was followed by a gem from St Julien, La Reserve de Leoville Barton 2008, a smooth elegant blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23 Merlot and 4 Cabernet Franc.
Colm, Beverly and Mauirce

And we finished off with a wee drop of Cognac. No, not Hennessy as you might expect, but Delamain. The original company was founded by Dubliner James Delamain but had its ups and downs after his death in 1800. Nowadays, it is one of the few family owned Cognac producers and is based in Jarnac. Despite the Irish connection, you won’t be able to buy it here but do watch out for it in duty free shops where the Pale and Dry XO turns up.

What will turn up in the Winegeese series next year? The three person committee – Colm McCann, Beverly Mathews and Maurice O’Mahony – are determined to keep it going. I’m told a major Californian vineyard will be in Cork in February. Watch this space! For now, well done to the three and their helpers and distinguished guests (local wine historian Ted Murphy was present again at BT). Joyeux Noël et bonne année.
Three wine fans at Brown Thomas last evening.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Carlow’s Isla Brings Her Wines Home

Carlow’s Isla Brings Her Wines Home
Winegeese organisers, Beverley Mathews (right) and
Maurice O'Mahony (left) with Isla and Paul Gordon.

There are more vines growing in the Languedoc than in Australia. Paul Gordon should know. He is Australian and he and his Irish wife Isla work (and I mean work) a vineyard in the Languedoc about twenty minutes drive from Beziers. The vineyard is called Domaine la Sarabande and they had four wines at the latest Winegeese tasting in L’Atitude 51 in Cork last evening.

The couple met in New Zealand in 2003 and then spent five or six years in wine in Marlborough. In 2009, they settled in France and raised some €40,000 from relations and friends in return for wine in the future. Isla: There is just the two of us. We are very small; everything is gently worked and done by hand. We have upped production to about 28,000 bottles a year which is more or less where we want to be.

With so many vineyards in the area, there is much competition locally and so the pair export about 90 per cent of their wine, mostly to English speaking countries. And indeed, those same countries (Ireland, US, Australia and New Zealand) are all happy with screw caps but not so the French.

And the bottling is done on the farm, but by a mobile contractor who drives up in his specially equipped truck when they are ready. “The wine goes in one end; the cartons come out the other!”
The first wine shown last evening, the 2012 AOP Rosé, is sold mostly at “the cellar door”. It is about half and half Grenache and Cinsault, very fruity with good acidity, finishing crisp and dry. Drink it young and you’ll see it goes well with salmon, smoked trout or with a medium spiced Asian cuisine.

Then we moved on to their beautifully name Misterioso, their entry level red from 2012, a great match with the Duck terrine from L’Atitude (the ladies here know their pairings and regularly get them spot on!). It is fruit forward, easy drinking, fresh and juicy and very approachable.The 2011 AOP Rouge was next up, a blend of Grenache (60%), Carignan (25) and Syrah. “A lot more going on here...more structure..more body. Suits red meats, stews. Carignan is pain to grow, susceptible to disease but its earthy character makes it worth it.” It went down well with the L’Atitude spiced beef.

Wine number four was their 2012 Vin de France, made with approximately 60 Carignan and 40 per cent Aramom. Aramom? It is an old local grape. And they have some on their land. The bush vines are 60 to 80 years old with a very low yield but very intense fruit.

It was perhaps my favourite but only 1000 bottles are produced! “It is really quite special. Earthy fungal, herbal, minty (the vineyard is bordered by the garrigue) and fresh to the finish. Because of the soil type, the wine holds the acidity, it is a winemaker’s dream, no manipulation required,” said Paul. A lovely wine to finish a very pleasant evening on.

Next up: December 5th 6.00pm in the Food Emporium (Brown Thomas). John Wilson talk and tasting on the Wine Geese. No fee but do book a place via L’Atitude or the Ballymaloe Wine Shop in BT. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Winegeese. A New Generation in Cork last night.

The Winegeese. A New Generation.
Languedoc winemakers at L'Atitude
Bottom (l to r): Leslie Williams (Irish Examiner),
Neasa Corish Miquel and Philip Grant.
A couple of modern winegeese were at L’Atitude in Cork lasted evening and very impressive they were too. Both Neasa Corish Miquel and Philip Grant operate in the Languedoc and, with Irish Examiner’s Leslie Williams linking and prompting the pair, we had a very entertaining evening and tasted some excellent wines.

Neasa Corish Miquel is originally from Dublin and married into the Miquel family. They have two vineyards, one near Beziers, the other south of the Narbonne to Toulouse stretch of the A61 autoroute.

The big surprise from Neasa was her 2012 Albarino, the only one in France (at least for the present!). The Miquels took a big gamble here, planting 14 hectares “all in one go”. But is looks like paying off. This is an elegant fresh white wine with a lovely fragrance. Matched with a mix of smoked and fresh salmon, one of the many excellent bites from the L’Atitude kitchen, it went down well.

Her opening wine, the 2011 Viognier, has been harvested by night and “handled gently”. Its freshness was evident and it went well with the cheese. Neasa said it keeps well for days in the open bottle and is even decanted in some restaurants.

Then Philip who, after a successful business career, bought the large Chateau Bellevue estate in November 2007 (just before the crash!), spoke about the main grape grown there. It is the little known Négrette which has “fabulous colour and fabulous fruit” but “is tricky to grow”.

Worth it though as illustrated through his wines. The first was his 2012 Rosé. Some forty per cent of his wine is rosé and this beauty went very well indeed with Jack McCarthy’s classy Pastrami. Bren Smith of Mackenway, who distribute for Grant and Miquel, said it was also a terrific match with curry.

Philip then produced his first red, his 2009, a gold medal winner and his best seller. It is fifty five per cent Négrette, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah also in the blend. It is fresh and fruity, soft, and matched very well with the mushrooms.
The Canal du Midi flows through the Languedoc
and was once used for carrying wine.

Then came the big hitters. Neasa’s introduced us to her Larmes des Fees (the tears of the fairies), a 100% Syrah from 2006 and under the St Chinian appellation. It has been aged for 18 months in oak and much the same in bottle, is very high quality and will age well. The tears of the fairies, Neasa told us, flowed when they heard a group of washerwomen bad-mouthing absent colleagues. Probably still flowing so.

The 2009 Optimum is powerful and fresh and age worthy and another award winner for Philip. Indeed, it has been awarded a very hard to get Coup de Coeur by Hachette. This Fronton AOC red is from low yield vines and has “an enormous concentration of flavour. “It has taken off very well, “he said, “and the biggest buyers are the Vietnamese”.

It was quite a long evening but we didn’t notice the time going by, thanks to the good company and the good wines. More of the same next Wednesday (7.00pm) when the wines of Domainela Sarabande (also from the Beziers area and owned by Australian Paul Gordon and his Irish wife Isla) will be featured. Tickets from L’Atitude at 021 2390219.

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!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Bordeaux Evening in Cork

The Winegeese Team announce:

A Bordeaux Evening in Cork

'A Bordeaux Evening in Cork' with Pierre Lawton, Bordeaux and Ted Murphy, Irish Wine Geese, and author 'A Kingdon of Wine - The Story of Ireland's Wine Geese', in the Sculpture Gallery, The Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Thursday 11th July, 6pm €12
Pierre Lawton is an eight generation Bordeaux-based wine merchant specializing in top chateaux wines. He is the owner of Alias. His family has been selling wine in Bordeaux since 1739.
He is one of the most interesting and knowledgeable people in Bordeaux and we are very much looking forward to welcoming Pierre back to Cork. His family have great connections with Cork, and there is a portrait of one of Pierre’s ancestors, a Lord Mayor of Cork, on display in the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
Pierre will also be joined by Ted Murphy (left), author of ‘A Kingdom of Wine – The Story of Ireland’s Wine Geese. Ted is the expert of all things to do with Ireland’s Wine Geese – Irish people, both long ago, and present generations, who are involved in winemaking all over the wine world.
This promises to be one of the highlights of the wine calendar in Cork – the wine capital of Ireland.
To reserve places, please contact Beverley, Maurice, or Colm, or e-mail

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Australian Chardonnay and Bandon's WineGeese Event!

Lighter, fresher Chardonnay from Australia

During the 1990's Australian Chardonnay was one of the great recruiters for the ABC (Anything but Chardonnay) movement, based on our over oaked and over here style of Chardonnay.

However if there is one variety that has change dramatically over the last number of years from Australia, it's Chardonnay.
Cooler vineyard sites, more sensitive winemaking have contributed to a lighter, fresher style of Chardonnay from Down under.
Join Wine Australia's John Mc Donnell and Bernard Hickin, Jacob's Creek wine maker to discover this change (and be ready to hand back your ABC membership card!)
The Details
Venue: The Function Room at Fallon and Byrne, Exchequer Street, Dublin 2
Date & Time: WWednesday 19th June, 6.45pm - 8.30pm
Cost: 20 Euros per person for tasting and delicious nibbles.
To Book: Direct with our office on

WineGeese in Bandon!
On Thursday June 27th at 7.30 pm Barry O'Farrell of the Bandon Wine Club joins forces with Anthony Tindal of Tindal Wines for a Wine Geese Dinner in Chapel Steps Restaurant & Wine Bar, Bandon to give a brief history of the Irish connection with Bordeaux and a tasting of some well-known Wine Geese Wines:
Chateau Talbot
Chateau Lynch-Moussas
Chateau Phelan-Segur
Chateau Leoville-Barton
The evening includes a 5-course tasting menu presented by Chef Kevin O'Regan
Booking is essential. To book, please contact Chapel Steps Restaurant on +353 23 8852581 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Paradiso: Paradise Found

Paradiso: Paradise Found

Spring is here and so are the new greens from Gort na Nain farm including the "new kid on the block, cime di rapa, aka broccoli raab amongst other aliases". That green, see picture below, was new to me at least and not the only "surprise" during a superb weekend dinner at Cafe Paradiso. 

In this elegant, intimate and comfortable space, the food is top notch, as is the service. Asked one of our servers about part of the amuse bouche and got all the details, from the ingredients to the recipe to the various possible finishes. More than just training, I think, at play here. This lady likes her job!

And it looks as if that goes all the way from the front of house (great to meet Geraldine on her home turf) to the kitchen where Denis Cotter has brought this cafe, founded in 1993, to a multi-award winning top class restaurant. One of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, tells me that it's "not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland".

Tartlet of caramelized beetroot & Bluebell Falls fresh goat’s cheese, salsa verde and olive-crushed potato.

Marinated Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella with Gort na Nain leaves, roasted grapes, crushed fennel , crispbread and pomegranate syrup and pistachio dukkah
These were our starters. The tartlet was in a class of its own. These can be fairly skimpy in some places but not here! Never had mozzarella served like this before! Fantastic combination. By the way, Gort na Nain farm supplies the bulk of vegetables used by Paradiso. 

Spring cabbage dolma of spiced carrot & chickpeas with smoked pepper-almond sauce, orange mint yoghurt, crushed saffron potato cake and broad beans
 Looks like a work of art, too good to eat! A majestic main course and, if you want the recipe, check it out here
Leek & roast squash gratin with hazelnut & Hegarty’s cheddar crust, citrus rosemary cime di rape, braised borlotti beans.
This is where I met the cime di rape for the first time! Tasted well, like broccoli to be honest, as it played a supporting role here to the magnificent roast gratin. Like many of the dishes served here, this is (well, was) beyond my imagination but certainly not beyond that of Denis Cotter. Superbly executed. 

Crozier Blue cheese, apple, Gortnanain honey, glazed pecans

Cardamom set custard with poached rhubarb and pistachio shortbread
With a visit to Cashel Blue coming up this week, I was delighted to get the opportunity to taste their Crozier, served in such a simple yet brilliant way. And more of the same with our other dessert. Hasn’t the humble rhubarb come a long way from the neglected corner of the back garden!

If the food is the main story here, the wine list has recently claimed a mention. Better let Denis explain it himself: "As promised, we've torn up the wine list and put it back together in a new way. There are two major changes that we're very excited about. Firstly, every wine is now available in four measures. And we've radically changed the way we price wine to drag the top end of the list down into the middle. Get the scoop here, then come in and play with it..."

The result for the customer is brilliant: a new list, new measures, and new prices. There are about forty wines available, all by the glass (150ml), the quartino (250), the mezzo (250) and by the bottle. You also have a choice of aperitifs and digestifs.

We started with a quartino of Dos Victorias ‘Jose Pariente’ Verdejo 2011. With the mains, we each enjoyed a glass of the Cullen Margaret River White 2011. Picked the Cullen in anticipation of a WineGeese event in Paradiso. On Tuesday May 28th the restaurant will, in association with Liberty Wines, host a Presentation & Tasting with winemaker Emma Cullen of Cullen Wines from Australia's Margaret River. Book direct with Paradiso.

Oh, nearly forgot the gorgeous desert wines. One was a brilliant port, the Quinta do Infantado Senior Tawny Port, and the other was Californian Essencia Orange Muscat 2010. Sweet ending to a lovely evening,