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Archive for February, 2012

Postcards from the Edge

February 14th, 2012

and by the edge, I mean the Cliff Edge, and by the Cliff, I mean the Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford.

I have three small children and while this brings great joy to my life, it also takes it over on many an occasion. My youngest was born last September and she was 10 weeks early so we spent 52 stressful days in hospital with her. During this emotional haze, myself and my wife promised each other when we get through this, we would go away to the Cliff House Hotel and have the famous tasting menu. This is what makes us happy and if Sarah’s great journey wasn’t a good enough reason, then nothing would be. Christmas presents were made easy this year.

Red Nose Wine supplies a very famous wine into the Cliff House Hotel, Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc, and it has pride of place on the famous tasting menu.

I won’t bore you with stories of the infinty pool, the outdoor jacuzzi, the sauna or the sound of the sea and the upgraded room and the complimentary champagne on arrival, but let’s just say it took about five minutes to relax. I was at the Ryder Cup in the K Club and was blown away with the standards set there for organization but also seamless way everything just worked. The Cliff House is like that. Everything just works…

I should say that the aforementioned baby was with us. The others were farmed out to doting grandparents but we weren’t quite ready to take our eye off of her.

This is a run through of one of the most amazing food experiences that I have ever had. I am not qualified to say exactly how good a chef Martijn Kajuiter is, but as a lover of food, this was an incredible assault on the senses. The flavour, textures and imagination with the wide array of dishes was mesmirising. I remember working as a waiter in a Michelin starred resteraunt on the French Riviera many years ago, and my biggest panic was always learning the contents of the Amuse Bouche (in French and English ) every night. This is the little tingler for the taste buds that you get ‘before’ the starter. The translation is “mouth amuser”. Here is what we got …

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The bread including Smoked Glenilen Butter, Irish Walnuts and Seasalt.

The bread including Smoked Glenilen Butter, Irish Walnuts and Seasalt.

This was just an assault on the senses - scallops, sea spinach, pork, irish caviar, quail Egg, veal, poke Gras and much more

This was just an assault on the senses - scallops, sea spinach, pork, irish caviar, quail Egg, veal, foie Gras and much more

The wine to match this dish was Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc and it was a wonderful accompaniment to the many different dishes in front of us. A tip of the hat to Anke, the excellent sommelier in the Cliff House.

Fish by the Sea ... Helvick Cod with brown shrimps, Marsh Saphire and Butter Jus

Fish by the Sea ... Helvick Cod with brown shrimps, Marsh Saphire and Butter Jus

to clean the palate ...

to clean the palate ...

Herbs from the garden make a great sauce ....

Herbs from the garden make a great sauce ....

... and Skeaghanore Duck with rhubarb, black olive, Thyme and white chocolate suits the sauce perfectly

... and Skeaghanore Duck with rhubarb, black olive, Thyme and white chocolate suits it perfectly

and so the deserts began to arrive ...

and so the deserts began to arrive ...

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and then it was over ...

and then it was over ...

The wine matching menu was very well done and added to the whole experience. The English Pinot Gris was a real treat with the Cod. I even got a glass of Sake with the salmon dish ( I never took a picture of that dish )

The Wines

The Wines

While we savored this truly wonderful meal, our baby Sarah had it to look forward to the next morning. The joys of breastfeeding. I will say that it did not affect her appetite but it did do strange things to the the nappies. My wife wasn’t drinking so at least Sarah didn’t have to worry about those side effects.

To close I will show the view from the room and possibly the best room in the hotel… I cannot recommend this enough – its a true touch of magic on our doorsteps and very well worth the trip, whether you are weather beaten parents in need of a night away, or lovers of all things food.

The view from the room

The view from the room

The best room in the house ?

The best room in the house ?

An Ode to the Grape

February 7th, 2012

AntidoteShelley2

One day i woke up with an idea in my head
I was not worried what people would say or even have said
As per usual I wanted to write about wine
But I wanted it to be in 4 line paragraphs and maybe even rhyme

Grapes grow in countries with water and sun
When you ferment them, you introduce the fun
I appreciate the rhyming is childish and poor
But how else could I write a line with the word hoor.

Back to the vines and their wondrous fruit
When September comes they wear their best suit
The pickers arrive and strip them quite quick
Timing is crucial, speed is the trick

The winemaker now has a job on their plate
To control the temperature but also to wait
For yeasts to appear or nature to start
The sugar to transform to alcohol, it all has its part

“I like a sweet wine, oh i like it dry
I don’t like Chardonnay, but a Chablis I would try”
The measure of a dry wine is the sugar thats left
After fermentation, it is residual at best

So wine regions that see very little rays
Will struggle for sugar and ripeness these days
There is less to transform and little to waste
So if you like it dry, the Loire Valley’s to your taste?

I could write more and there’s more to tell
But I am listening and I can hear the exit bell
My editor is a patient man and has proven it so
But this will test him, what he will think I don’t know

So I bid you farewell and I bid you goodnight
Is poetry a good direction, will I be proven right?
We all need to try something that is new
This is my effort, I bid you adieu.

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