Glendalough Logo Upper Lake copy

Crafting History: Glendalough Distillery

As worthy as the craft drinks boom has been in recent years, it’s hard not to be cynical about how abused the term ‘craft’ has become of late.

It didn’t take too long for the large multinational corporations to jump on the bandwagon and apply the adjective to their products, if not literally then by association via clever marketing campaigns showing folksy, happy people enjoying enigmatically-named products in honest-to-goodness packaging.

So if you’re suffering from a bit of ‘craft’ fatigue and you’re not familiar with Glendalough Distillery, then you may understandably be a bit suspicious of their “Ireland’s First Craft Distillery” tagline, especially given their comprehensive range of award-winning products in slick bottles.

However I recently had the rare chance to tour the Glendalough Distillery – both in its current and future iterations – and was relieved to find that the company’s claim is a refreshingly honest one…

Crafting History: Glendalough Distillery

The Past

Glendalough Distillery was set up by five friends from Dublin and Wicklow who, along with a passion for spirits, also had savvy business nous and an eye for something big about to erupt.

Thus Glendalough Distillery was founded and the mystical Saint Kevin adopted as their mascot, an emblem representing not only the history of the area but also the rewards of patience, perseverance, and a steadfast commitment to an ideal.

Before their award-winning whiskeys they produced Poitín, whiskey’s predecessor and again a neat link to Ireland’s past, before more recently releasing the four seasonal gins that arguably has made their name, at least to a public soaked in the gin craze that has swept the world in recent years.

Crafting History: Glendalough Distillery

 

The Present

Crafting History: Glendalough Distillery

So that was one of them – where were the rest? I looked around the poky unit which – apart from this delivery area and the corner that housed the still – counted only an office and a space above it which Glendalough crew turned into a shebeen of sorts.

Up until that visit my only distillery experiences had been the Midleton behemoth and the tasteful, albeit also quite large, new Tullamore Distillery, so understandably I assumed at that point that any spirits company with any ambitions of scale needed more than just the one still.

And this is where the ‘craft’ of Glendalough Distillery comes in, for they actually can’t produce more than what that single 500 litres Holstein gives them, making their in-house products truly batch-produced, artisan labours of love.

The process is pretty much entirely manual: they shovel in the botanicals by hand, detect the cut points mostly by taste, and control flow among the various pipes by turning levers and twisting knobs – there wasn’t, as far as I could see, any piece of IT technology anywhere. And if that isn’t the definition of ‘craft’ then I don’t know what is.

Crafting History: Glendalough Distillery

 

The Future

Any time now they are about to release a Sloe Gin variant which they’ve been resting for about a year, and in the pipeline they have “some very experimental gins” of which ‘beech leaf’ will be the first.

They’re also currently ageing some 10 year old single malt in barrels that previously held Dublin’s 5 Lamps Brewery’s “Black Pitts Porter”, their own take on a burgeoning trend of finishing whisky in barrels that previously held other beverages such as beer, cider and wine.

Interesting times ahead indeed.

 


The Times They Are A Chan-gin

While we were at Glendalough Distillery they were in the process of producing their Spring Gin, one of their seasonal gins that have garnered widespread acclaim both home and abroad – indeed, in the last few weeks they won three medals in the three categories they entered in the “Oscars of Gin” that is the Global Gin Masters: silver medals each in the ultra premium and organic categories, and a gold medal in the micro distillery category.

Peering into the porthole of the Holstein where we could see, swirling about inside, a stew of juniper berries, orange peels, thorny gorse flowers, pine needles, leaves of various descriptions and much more.

For, you see, Glendalough Distillery’s botanicals – at least the non-exotic ones – are locally-foraged. Yes, another of those controversial terms: it seems you can’t move nowadays but for all the foraging. But again, as we’ve seen so far,

Every season the team at Glendalough Distillery work with renowned local forager Geraldine Kavanagh of wicklowwildfoods.com where they spend a week in the wilds of the Wicklow countryside foraging for the freshest and most interesting local botanicals, berries and fruit.

That means, of course, that every year the seasonal gins change, which is precisely the point – the concept of terroir defined. With each release you literally taste the season just gone.

These foraged botanicals are then gathered and left macerate with six of the basic ingredients of gin — juniper, coriander, angelica root, orange peel, bitter almond and orris root – for two weeks before being distilled in the aforementioned Holstein still and finally bottled.

At the end of our tour everyone scattered hurriedly back to their day jobs; I however, hung around to pick the brains of distiller Ciarán Rooney, a.k.a. “Rowdy Rooney”. With amazing grace and patience he let me sniff and sample all the botanicals he had to hand, including the mysterious angelica root and orris root, allowing me a true ‘deconstructed gin’ experience.

I was the last to leave the unit, which by then had become as still and quiet as St Kevin’s chapel. As I was about to duck under the roller door I turned to see Ciarán bent over a thorny gorse bush next to the Holstein still, his gloved hands picking the flowers from it one by one, destined for the next batch of Spring Gin.

As clichéd as ‘hand-produced, artisan, batch, craft distilling’ sounds, that was nevertheless exactly the last thing I saw when leaving Glendalough Distillery.

 


Three to Try

Crafting History: Glendalough DistilleryGlendalough Premium Irish Poitín

My first taste of (legal) Poitín, Glendalough’s version is disarmingly smooth, sweet and moreish.

Produced with barley and not potatoes – as potatoes arrived in Ireland about 1,000 years after the first Poitín was produced – it’s unctuous and unexpectedly herbal.

RSP €37.99 from Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin, James Fox, Dublin, Mitchell & Sons; McHugh’s of Kilbarrack & Howth.

 

Glendalough 7 Year Old Whiskey

My personal favourite of the three Glendalough whiskies: rich butterscotch, honey, vanilla and spice with a mysteriously smoky undertone.

RSP €48.99 from Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin, O’Brien’s; McHugh’s of Kilbarrack & Howth, James Fox, Dublin; Mitchell & Sons, Martin’s of Fairview, Castle Off-Licence of Tralee, and other good independent off-licences.

 

Crafting History: Glendalough DistilleryGlendalough Spring Gin

There’s juniper, of course, but also a slight coconuttniess from the gorse and sweet, sappiness from the pine needles, finished of with a nice refreshing citric note.

RSP €43.49 from Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin; O’Brien’s; McHugh’s of Kilbarrack & Howth, Martin’s of Fairview; James Fox of Dublin, Mitchell & Sons, Baggot Street Wines, Greenacres Wexford, Castle Off-Licence of Tralee, and other good independent off-licences.

 

This post first appeared on TheTaste.ie.

BeTomish

BeTomish: Another Irish Wine Success Story

Picture the scene: the sun is shining on the azure Mediterranean, you and your friends scoot around historic villages without a care, sailing, surfing and visiting art galleries before finally meeting up for a carefree al fresco meal in the warm summer breeze with some great, fuss-free wine.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well this is the lifestyle of Tom Gallagher, originally from Boyle in Co. Roscommon before he moved to Sitges near Barcelona in 2001 with his family.

He played rugby in New Zealand until 2014 before returning to Spain at the fresh age of 24 where he hatched a plan with his brother Eoin (29) to launch their own wine range under the name “BeTomish”, a brand name Tom was already using for some time beforehand for a number of products he used to sell locally.

The name seems odd at first but when spoken aloud and correctly pronounced it is clear what is being conveyed: not a name, but a directive … literally, you can “be Tom-ish” by enjoying his sunny take on living through carefully-selected products that reflect his way of life.

Even the logo – which has the primeval look of a man squatting – is actually a hieroglyph of his name: look closely and you’ll see the letters T, O and M making up the humanoid shape.

So it was only time then, given the location of his adopted home, that wine would become a part of the BeTomish family; and now, thanks to importers Honest2Goodness, we have both BeTomish Wines readily available on the Irish market.

And little did they know but they automatically became part of what is known as the “Wine Geese”, Irish men and women who over the centuries have emigrated and found a new life abroad in the wine trade. You might know many of them already – Lynch-Bages and Leoville-Barton in Bordeaux and Hennessey in Cognac spring to mind – and now you can add the Gallagher brothers of Sitges to this illustrious list.

The Wines

But the Gallagher brothers are not winemakers, and indeed they had little knowledge of the trade before starting out. Instead they spent six months meeting grape growers, producers and wine makers from the Priorat, Penedès and Montsant regions in Catalonia under the direction of mentor and business partner Pere Martorell, owner of De Muller Winery, in order to source their wines.

BeTomish 2

The result was finally hitting on both a red and white from organic vineyards that they felt accurately reflected both the ideals of the brand and the regions the wines were from – in other words two wines they felt were “Tom-ish” enough to package under their eye-catchingly minimalist labels. Their first vintage was destined solely for the domestic market – Barcelona and Ibiza primarily – and it sold out in its entirety, a success by any measure.

What sets BeTomish apart from other ‘lifestyle wine brands’ is the passion and drive of brothers: while Tom manages relationships in Spain, Eoin is the Sales/Marketing/Export manager whose enthusiasm for the brand is infectious. Then there’s the brand message and packaging: no family history, no over-stylised bottles, no essays on the back labels – just simple, good wine, representative of the region they’re from and cleanly presented.

So far they have just the two wines – a white from Tarragona and a red from Priorat, both reviewed below – but they have their sights set on other regions such as Montsant, where they intend on buying their first vineyards soon, and Rueda shortly after that if all goes well, with others no doubt in the pipeline.

And it doesn’t stop there – the Gallagher brothers are continuing to extend their BeTomish brand and way of life to other areas as diverse as property rentals via BeTomish Homes, which already has a number of properties in its portfolio.

Enjoying a BeTomish wine in a BeTomish home in sunny Sitges – what can be more “be-Tom-ish” than that?

TWO TO TRY

BeTomish RedBeTomish Priorat Crianza
RSP €22.95
Priorat has the tendency to be a big, taut, punchy wine, so I was pleasantly surprised by this version: it was approachably juicy and smooth but with a drying, well-integrated tannic streak at the end, the latter being an undeniable homage to the style of the area. This is an excellent introduction to the Priorat style, an approach confirmed by Eoin when he called it “Priorat for Beginners”.
A blend of 60% Garnacha, 20% Merlot, 10% Syrah, 10% Samsó, the grapes come from a 30 hectare plot in the area of El Molar, with vine age 20-30 years on average.

BeTomish Blanco Tarragona
RSP €15.95
BeTomish WhiteAn usual blend (for me at least) of 70% Macabeo, 20% Muscat, 10% Sauvignon Blanc, this is fresh a easy-drinking, but its gloriously low 11% alcohol makes it an ideal summer sipper.

Stockists
Baggot St Wines; Blackrock Cellars; Clontarf Wines; The Corkscrew; Donnybrook Fair; Honest2Goodness Market (Saturdays only); Daly’s of Boyle, Co Roscommon; World Wide Wines, Waterford

 

This article originally appeared on TheTaste.ie.

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Irish Startup Wins Best Digital Food Magazine in the World 2016

Regular readers will know that I contribute monthly for Ireland’s biggest (and best!) online food & drink magazine, TheTaste.ie. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed working with the small but passionate team who have been generous, fun, and great craic since they set up just a year and a half ago.

So it was with great pride that I heard last week that TheTaste won Best Digital Food Magazine in the World at the 2016 Gourmand World Awards in Shanghai, an incredible achievement by any measure and a worthy acknowledgement of all the effort Keith & Jules have put into building their digital empire.

Below is a slightly edited version of the release TheTaste issued online following the awards. Here’s to some more great years ahead!


TheTasteLogo

At the Gourmand World Awards 2016 on May 29th, TheTaste was announced as the Best Digital Food Magazine in the World 2016.

At the awards, which each year honours the best food and wine books, printed or digital, as well as food television, TheTaste beat stiff competition from other shortlisted online food magazines from Spain and the United States.

At the ceremony, which this year took place in Shanghai, TheTaste was among a four other Irish winners. Michael O’Meara scooped 1st place for his cookbook Sea Gastronomy: Fish & Shellfish of the North Atlantic, earning the title Best Fish Cookbook in the World, while RTÉ’s Operation Transformation was also recognised in the Health and Nutrition Institutions category, winning 2nd prize.

Karen Austin was another Irish runner-up with her vegetarian cookbook, The Lettercollum Cookbook. Looking North, NI Good Food won third prize in the Culinary Travel category for its food and drink guide of Northern Ireland.

Trevis L. Gleason was awarded the Special Prestige Award of the International Jury for his book Chef Interrupted.

TheTaste Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2016

On winning Best Digital Food Magazine in the world, Managing Director Keith Mahon said, “Winning this prestigious award means the world to myself and Jules, and the entire team at TheTaste. To be known as Best Digital Food & Wine Publication in the world is something we never expected to happen, just to be shortlisted was an honour but to win means we have achieved something very, very special.

“We are so proud to write about the food scene in Ireland and feel this award is for everyone who has helped TheTaste since we started. There is a true passion for food in Ireland and we do our best to record this passion on a national and international stage. Finally, we would like to thank all the judges in Yantai and we are delighted to have won.

TheTaste is a family-run business, set up by husband and wife team Keith and Jules Mahon in October 2014, that strives to be a culinary kaleidoscope for food, wine, cocktails, whiskey and more. In its first year of business alone TheTaste generated over €2 million in revenue for the Irish hospitality market. Now, after 18 months, with the support of a small dedicated team, TheTaste has gained 1.7m readers, and 215,000 registered members that get a fresh taste of foodie news, recipes and more to their inbox every single day.

 

 

Bollinger House Detail

Bollinger – A Visit to the Legendary Champagne House

Emerging from the forested hilltop of Montagne de Reims, the heartland of the Champagne region unfurls itself before you. The reveal is gradual and, as you’d expect from this most famous of wine regions, not without elegance.

However when I visited the region in March it was not lush undulating green hillsides that greeted me but the rather more sobering sight of heavy, leaden grey skies over bleak fields of skeletal vines – the area had not yet fully emerged from its winter dormancy and so was distinctly lacking in any vegetation or colour.

I was in Champagne to visit Bollinger, the famous House known to anyone with even a passing interest in sparkling wine. Having worked with the brand for years it was akin to meeting one of your heroes, though in contrast to the old saying I couldn’t imagine this encounter to be in any way disappointing.

Descending from Montagne de Reims we hung left before Épernay in the direction of Aÿ, home to Bollinger as well as other notable names such as Ayala, Deutz and a small boutique brand known as Moët et Chandon. Aÿ itself came upon us quite suddenly and without the fanfare I was expecting from such an eminent address. I also found it difficult to comprehend its size: with a mere 4,000 souls or so, I didn’t expect Aÿ to be, well, a village.

Overlooking Clos St Jacques in Aÿ

More surprising was how we came to find ourselves outside the House of Bollinger itself: instead of a gilded avenue lined with cypress trees and cherubs heralding our arrival, we approached the château via what seemed to be a back lane behind some houses, pulling up outside the iconic polished brass nameplates with absolutely no ado.

That’s not to say the House of Bollinger itself is very impressive however: a very typical château in that much French style, with two sweeping staircases leading to a doorway beneath a wrought iron balcony and surrounded by white shuttered windows. It features a lot in the Bollinger iconography, and rightly so.

We started by having a gander at Bollinger’s back garden – literally. Behind the House is a walled vineyard, and a very rare one too as it’s one of the few in France that wasn’t devastated by the phylloxera epidemic that wiped out most vineyards across Europe in the 1860s onwards. Indeed, it’s one of only two in Champagne that wasn’t affected by the devastating louse – the other, Clos St Jacques, is literally across the road and also owned by Bollinger. Needless to say this rarity is fully exploited via an extremely limited-production Champagne called Vieilles Vignes Françaises which is made exclusively from these two plots; a bottle of this – if you can find one – will set you back at least €500, if you’re lucky.

The cooperage in Bollinger

From there we made our way down the deserted streets on foot to Lily Bollinger’s house where, across a modest courtyard, there was a small cooperage where they still maintain their oak barrels to this day, the last company in Champagne to do so. Hanging haphazardly on the walls were a handful of movie posters from past Bond films, the only obvious connection here to the world’s most famous spy, for whom Bollinger has been the Champagne of choice since the 1970’s. Oddly, the posters they chose were all from the Pierce Brosnan era – none from before, and none since. I wonder if the coopers of Bollinger have a particular affinity for the man from Navan?

Next to the cooperage was a door leading down into the cellars of Bollinger: dark, dank tunnels hewn from the chalky earth for which Champagne is famous. Here, thousands upon thousands of dusty cobwebbed bottles line the walls that snake for an incredible five kilometres underneath Aÿ. It’s mind-boggling to think that the  residents of this sleepy village have literally millions of Euros of the finest Champagne resting beneath their feet.

One of the many stretches of underground cellars

Established in 1829, Bollinger is one of the few Champagne Houses left under full family ownership. The beefy “Bollinger style” is famous worldwide and owes no small part to the predominance of Pinot Noir in its blends, but their dogged commitment to traditional (read: expensive and time consuming) methods also play their part, for example their habit of fermenting a high proportion of their wines in wood, their use of a large amount of Premier and Grand Cru wines in the blends, and ageing for well beyond the legal minimum, amongst others.

‘Attention to detail’ is a term bandied about a lot, and mostly erroneously so, but for Bollinger it really is an underlying philosophy of what they do, preferring as they do to prioritise quality, tradition and craftsmanship over profit and margins – an enviable situation made all the easier by being family-owned.

The result is expensive, yes, especially in light of €20 Champagne in the likes of Aldi and Lidl, but you really do get what you pay for with Bollinger.

When Bollinger says they lay down their Champagne for years they ain’t lying!

Back at Aÿ we emerged blinking from the cellars to face what was perhaps the highlight of the highlights: tasting the fruit of all this effort. The full range of non-vintage and vintage wines were laid before us in white and rosé versions, and even a rare still red wine called La Côte Aux Enfants.

But before we finish, no article on Bollinger is complete without the famous quote by Lily Bollinger, a tour de force who ran the company on her own for four decades in which she revolutionised the company, doubled sales, expanded production, and all the time adhered resolutely to the tradition that made the Bollinger name famous:

I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.


TWO TO TRY

Bollinger Special Cuvée
RSP €65 and widely available from good independent off-licences

The benchmark, and not for the faint hearted: full, rich, toasty, buttery, this is bruising but nevertheless elegant – a contradiction of sorts, yes, but true nevertheless. A properly posh Champagne.

 

Bollinger La Grande Année 2002/2004/2005
RSP €120 from Mitchell & Son, O’Brien’s, The Corkscrew, Redmond’s of Ranelagh and other fine wine retailers

This is the vintage Champagne from Bollinger and any one of the years above may be on the shelves of your local fine wine retailer at the moment. I’ve recently had the 2002 and for me it’s the best vintage Champagne I can recall, and from (vague) memory the 2004 and 2005 vintages are up there too. It’s more refined than the Special Cuvée, more delicate and mineral, and though more toned down in volume is nevertheless still rich and complex with incredible length. A true treat Champagne.

 

This article originally appeared on TheTaste.ie.

O Briens Wine Beer   Spirits  Buy Online   Free Delivery anywhere in Ireland

Great French Wines on Sale this Weekend from O’Brien’s

I would have liked to post this earlier in the week to give you some time to pick up a few bottles, but there’s still time to grab a few for this (sometimes) sunny weekend.

O’Brien’s are currently running their French Wine Sale that ends on Tuesday 24th, and I can honestly say there’s plenty of great bargains to be had, so best stock up for the summer now.

Some of my picks are below…


Silly Value for Money

Domaine Duffour Blanc
Normally €11.45, now €9.16

This was new to me in every respect: I don’t think I’ve had a wine from Gascony before,nor do I recall tasting its local grapes Colombard or Gros Manseng at any point, both of which make up 80% and 20% of the blend respectively.

What I definitely didn’t expect is how interesting this wine is, and for a quite incredible price too, which has been made even more appealing with 20% off this weekend.

Expect tropical grapefruit and pear tinged with herbal grassiness; a fun and no-nonsense wine ideal for summer.

 

Bougrier Chenin Blanc
Was €13.95, now €11.16

Chenin Blanc is a very underestimated grape and virtually unknown to consumers, which though regretful means that it’s often great value.

Here’s one example, and from the grape’s historical home in the Loire too. What’s more it’s only 11%, so great for summer sipping. Ripe, round and flavoursome, and a great price even at full RSP.

 

Domaine Begude Etoile
Was €19.95, now €15.96

At just under €20 this was great value, and at just €15.96 it’s unmissable. An organic, barrel-fermented 100% Chardonnay, this is the best Burgundy look-alike I’ve ever come across, and it has so much more poise than the often bruising examples of oaked Chardonnay from the New World.

There’s lots that buttery creaminess of course, but still maintains a backbone of lemony, sprightly fruit. The finish is long, textured and gorgeous, the balance fantastic. A treat wine for any day of the week, if you will. One of my stand-outs of late.

 


Fresh & Crisp

Cave de Lugny, Mâcon-Lugny
Normally €17.95, now €13.95

Though I prefer the richer style of Burgundy (see the last wine as an example) this is a really good (and currently great value) example of crisp, refreshing, unoaked Chardonnay for those who like their wines on the zestier side. Pure, clean and lemony, it would be great with some summer salads.

 

 

 

Hugel RieslingHugel Riesling
Normally €19.95, now €15.96

No this is not sweet. Much has been written about the public’s unwillingness to take to Riesling due to its unfortunate historical association with sickly sweet, branded confections. The reality, as ever in wine, is far from the common perception but it’s unlikely that consumers’ negative view of this noble grape is unlikely to change. Which, for the rest of us, means that it will continue to be good value, at least.

Here’s a great example of the grape, and in an approachable style too – yes there’s the limey, stoney character typical of the style but it’s rounded out and more textured than others can be, while still retaining the trademark zingy acidity. A delicious drop.

 

Fire Up the Barbie

Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône
Was €15.45, now €12.36

Côtes du Rhône ranks among Chablis, Chianti, Bordeaux and others as one of those regions that people call for by name, often without any reference for winemaker, brand or any other additional info. The unfortunate side effect of this popularity is that unscrupulous producers can exploit this and provide below-par wines for premium prices, something I’ve moaned about before.

Thankfully M. Chapoutier is not one of those companies, and at this price they definitely over-delivering. Expect juicy, brambly fruit with that distinctive black peppery characteristic typical of the region.

 

Pauillac de Lynch Bages 2011

Was €38.00, now €30.40

Yes, this could be in the “Splash Out” section below, but it’s also a super barbeque wine. If you’re a lover of Bordeaux, and particularly if you’re fond of your brands and/or Irish connection, then look no further. This is drinking fantastically well now: textured, juicy but balanced fruit with blackberry and blackcurrant loveliness on a deliciously dry, long finish. Definitely a special wine for that long-overdue get-together this summer, with a nice steak of course.

 


Splash Out

Domaine Olivier, Santenay Blanc, Clos des ChampsDomaine Olivier, Santenay Blanc, Clos des Champs
Normally €33.95, now €27.16

This was one of two whites on Burgundy übermensch Raymond Blake‘s table, and it just simply blew my mind. The world should taste wines like this and realise what it’s been missing in its race to de-oak chardonnay.

Gorgeously supple and textured, it offers up layers of undulatingly delicious flavours and a length that goes on forever. Very highly recommended.

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The WSET Diploma Course: Onwards and Upwards

It seems most of my blog posts begin with an apology for their tardiness, and this one is no exception given it’s been far too long since my last post.

But this time I feel that I have a reasonable excuse: in November I began the WSET Diploma course, which is a hefty undertaking to say the least.

The two years needed to cover this course involves mostly home study interspersed by intense batches of classwork, with latter normally spread over two to three days in a stuffy Dublin hotel conference room in which an enormous amount of theory and practical tasting is covered at intense speed.

For example in just two and a half days we covered the theory of almost all spirits in the world and tasting through and critically appraising some 32 samples, including all major styles of vodka, gin whiskey and rum, followed by cognac, grappa, calvados, and many other niche products before ending cruelly on tequila.

More recently, in three days we covered the entirety of Chile, Argentina, USA, South Africa, Australia AND New Zealand. And by ‘covered’ I really mean glossed-over, since these classes are really just simply primers and we’re then left off to do the rest of the study ourselves.

It is this open-ended aspect of the Diploma that is the real crux of the course: the study parameters aren’t outlined and it’s up to you to figure what’s relevant and what’s not – given the enormity, complexity and ambiguity of the wine world, deciding where to stop (or indeed, where to start) is a frustrating experience.

Only a tiny representation of all the study materials we get before the course starts. Credit: wspc.gr

Still, despite the alternating experiences of intense in-class cramming and the sense of feeling somewhat rudderless outside it, I haven’t regretted beginning the Diploma at any point, and can’t wait to learn more. For now, though, there’s a little sos beag.

So to say it’s been a busy few months is an understatement: not only has the course itself been significantly demanding of my time, but its commencement was preceded by the birth of our first son only one month earlier in October, not to mention continuing in a full-time job and the small matter of the Christmas and new year season in between.

As a result I’ve only barely been present in the world of wine, clinging on via my monthly contributions to TheTaste.ie, and even then needing to skip one to allow me some respite.

But I’m back now. At least I hope I am. Didn’t I say that before? Oh well…

This is the first in a series of posts relating to my WSET Diploma torture experience. Hopefully they’ll be informative and entertaining – at the very least they’ll be cathartic for this writer…

Le Caveau’s Real Wine Month: April 2016

Tomorrow Monday 4th April will see Ireland’s foremost natural & biodynamic wine importer, Le Caveau, launch their third Real Wine Month.

I haven’t participated in the previous two, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this one goes. Knowing Le Caveau’s passion and commitment to this often-overlooked sector of the wine trade, however, I can’t but expect it to be excellent.

Here are the participating Irish outlets and at the bottom is the press release with further details – I’ll check back at the end of the month with a review…!

Cork
Ballymaloe House
Bradleys Off-Licence
Café Paradiso
Jacques Restaurant
L’Atitude 51 Wine Café
Mews Restaurant
Nash 19
Pilgrim’s Restaurant

County Louth
MacGuinness Wine Merchants
MaGee’s Bistro
McGeough’s Bar & Restaurant
The Windsor Bar & Restaurant

Dublin
Avoca Foodhall
Baggot Street Wines
Blackrock Cellar
Brioche Restaurant
Catch 22
Cavern on Baggot Street
China Sichuan
Clontarf Wines
Donnybrook Fair, Baggot Street
Donnybrook Fair, Malahide
Donnybrook Fair, Stillorgan
Ely Wine Bar
Etto
Fallon & Byrne
Green Man Wines
La Cocotte Café
Liston’s Food Store
One Pico
Redmond’s of Ranelagh
Stanley’s Restaurant & Wine Bar
The Corkscrew

Galway
Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites

Kilkenny
Anocht Restaurant
Campagne
Le Caveau
The Grapevine
Zuni Restaurant

Kinsale
The Black Pig Wine Bar

Waterford
Cliff House Hotel
Worldwide Wines

Wicklow
Avoca


Press Release

LE CAVEAU ANNOUNCES REAL WINE MONTH IRELAND: APRIL  2016

Real Wine Month is an exciting, innovative promotion of artisan wines which have been produced sustainably by organic, biodynamic viticulture and low intervention (a.k.a. ‘natural’) winemaking. It is being run across Ireland and the United Kingdom by specialist importers Le Caveau (Ireland) and Les Caves de Pyrène (United Kingdom). 

From 4th-30th April, selected wines will be poured by the glass or featured on wine lists,  in tastings and themed events in over 200 restaurants, independent retailers and wine clubs across the U.K. and over 50 in Ireland. 

This, the third Real Wine Month in Ireland, is shaping up to be the best yet. From pubs, bars and bistros to Michelin-starred establishments, to independent retailers and wine clubs, we have seen increasing interest in the quality, authenticity and diversity of these small-scale, artisanal wines. 

Through participating restaurants and retailers, the promotion represents a great opportunity for wine-drinkers to taste and explore a diversity of wines that are not mass-distributed due to small-scale production, or indeed are in short supply due to global demand particularly from cities like New York, San Francisco, London and Paris.   

In the On-Trade 

Look out for Real Wine Month wine specials by the glass and carafe on blackboards, wine lists and table cards. Some restaurants and wine bars are also holding themed events and wine dinners

In the Off-Trade

Look out for posters and neck tags highlighting organic, biodynamic and natural wines in participating independent wine shops. Many are organising themed events and tasting evenings to highlight the wines. 

This is the third year that Le Caveau have brought this promotion to Ireland and it continues to go from strength to strength. This year, the company will host two separate tastings for press and trade which will focus on an ever-expanding portfolio of organic, biodynamic and natural wines (Drury Buildings, Dublin 2 on 12th April and L’Atitude 51, Cork on 14th April). 

Pascal Rossignol, Managing Director of Le Caveau points out that ” I believe that this promotion is important for the industry here in Ireland as it gives those restaurants and indie retailers who are focused on delivering interesting, authentic wines to their customers a rallying point, rather than focusing on wine as solely a vehicle for profit at any cost. Furthermore, our experience is that there is a cohort of wine-drinkers out there who are bored with wines that are well enough made, but simply taste like they were all made in the same place. Real Wine Month gives them a wonderful opportunity to find places where they can taste and explore an exciting and diverse range of wines to which they might not otherwise have easy access.” 

List of participants in Ireland
List of events in Ireland 
List of growers participating in portfolio tastings

 

Website & Social Media

www.realwinefair.com
https://www.facebook.com/RealWineFair
https://twitter.com/realwinefair@RealWineFair
https://www.instagram.com/realwinefair/

www.lecaveau.ie
@lecaveau1
#RealWine