We've just got in two vintages – see the 2008 here and see the 2009 here – of Château Rieussec's Sauternes, not cheap but super-luscious (it's a Premier Grand Cru classé, if you please), and a real end-of-year treat if you like the headily evocative, multi-layered richnesses of a really magnificent dessert wine.
We're all excited about the success of Zamora, the new restaurant in Academy Street, Cork, that serves and sells our wines (to take home or to enjoy with your meal) in stylish, friendly surroundings. A subsidiary thrill is finding the spiritual home of our fabulous sixteen-bottle wine dispenser from By the Glass.
All we have to do is calibrate it, and our fashionably just-a-hint-of-wan pachyderm will become a beautiful, unashamedly dazzling swan. Sounds like a plan, don't it?. Go to lovely Zamora anyway, and see what you think over a coffee or a tasty plateful – but look forward at the same time to choosing a glass or a half-a-glass of any of sixteen wines, coming soon.
Turkey with herb butter
An easy pairing, Beaujolais Nouveau was only released at the end of November and this is a perfect companion to pretty much all poultry. This very light fruity wine is the white wine drinkers red, not only that, it goes wonderfully with the gentle flavours of roast turkey. Pellerin Beaujolais Nouveau €15
For the white wine drinkers nothing works better than the refreshing crisp, citrus fruit filled grassy whites of the Loire valley. Don’t get me wrong the sauvignons of Sancerre, Pouilly Fume etc are wonderful but the citrus fruit and minerality of Domaine Gautherin Chablis is perfection. Dom Gautherin Chablis €21.99
In this part of the world rose seems to sadly be over looked or considered only for the girls. This is most certainly not true. Mas des Bressades Rose from between Nimes and Avignon is not only beautiful on its own but its subtle fruitiness of strawberry and raspberry are fantastic with delicate white meat. €14.99
Turkey is either amazing or down right bloody awful and that’s all down to cooking. Lots of people have started removing the crown to cook the turkey in two stages. Don’t make things difficult for yourself if you don’t have to; follow my steps below for the perfect dinner paired with the perfect wines.
- Since we’re cooking turkey I assume you have one and that if it was frozen that you have well and truly defrosted it (Buy fresh though!)
- Get a big block of room temperature salted butter, a handful of chopped parsley, Rosemary and sage aswell as three cloves of crushed garlic in a bowl, add a good few twists of salt and black pepper and mix into an herby buttery paste. If you’re a citrus fan a few grates of lemon zest into the butter mixture goes down a treat.
- Now for the bit most people don’t like for some reason but its well worth it. With the neck cavity facing you gently separate the turkey skin from the breast, pushing your hand right in there. Once separated grab a handful of the butter mixture and stuff between the skin and breast meat. Once stuffed, smooth out so all areas have equal amounts of butter. Throw a couple of halved lemons inside and sprinkle coast salt on the skin for crispiness.
- Pre-heat your oven to 165C/gas mark 3 and bung the bird in the oven covered in foil for 2½ - 3hrs (calculated for a bird between 6-8lbs). Check the turkey towards the end and in the last ½ hr remove to foil if needed to crisp the skin
- Let her rest for about 30 mins and enjoy this succulent bird with a large glass of Pellerin Beaujolais Nouveau.
With Christmas only a few weeks away and stress levels rising I thought I’d give you a hand with your Christmas dinner. I’m putting together the classics with some slight differences and I’ve paired them with some beautiful wines. Every other day-ish I’ll post another Christmas recipe with three wine pairings, enjoy!
Ham with mustard and Maple Syrup glaze.
With this guy you have a good few options. The loaded fruit Pinot Noirs from the Hahn family in Northern California brings lush cherry fruit with nice acidity, this help cuts through the fat of the ham while the fruit loaded wine compliments the sweetness of the glaze. Hahn’s Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir €17.99
You can also compliment your ham with the subtle, somewhat bitter fruit flavour of an Italian Pinot Grigio. Again this wine works well with cutting through the fat content; if your glaze is going to be subtly sweet this wine will be perfect. Corte Majoli Pinot Grigio €13.99
By far my favourite and quite luxurious is Sparkling wine. Veuve du Vernay Brut or Brut Rose from Bordeaux work wonderfully. This dry greenish-yellow wine shows notes of wild flowers, fresh pear and apple with persistent bubbles cleansing your palate between mouthfuls. Veuve du Vernay Brut €20.99
- Place the raw ham (bone in if possible) in a large pot, add enough water to cover and soak overnight, or up to 24 hrs ahead, changing the water twice, this helps to remove some of the excess salt from the meat. Some might simmer the ham but I prefer this method as it keeps the ham moist.
- Heat oven to 180C/gas 4. Drain and place the ham in a large roasting tin on a bed of sliced onions, apple and bay, cover tightly with foil and bake for 3 hrs, double check cooking times depending on the size of the ham.
- Remove from the oven and turn the heat up to 200C /gas 6.Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the rind off the ham, leaving about 1-2 cm of fat; cut a diamond-shaped pattern into this, in every other diamond cut you could place a clove. In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup (you could use Brown sugar or honey if you prefer) and mustard, then rub all over the ham. Roast for 30 mins until the ham is tender and the outside nice and sticky, Just keep an eye encase the sugars start to burn.
- Remove the ham from the roasting tin and place the tin on the hob. Deglaze the pan with a bottle of nice Irish cider. Sieve the liquid into a small pot to remove the remaining onions, apple and bay, add a heaped teaspoon of whole grain mustard and a heaped teaspoon of flour and whisk. If you need more liquid just add some water or stock.
- Bring to the table on a large platter
- with the beautiful mustard sauce. To serve, cut 1cm-thick slices off the ham to go alongside all those Christmas trimmings. Enjoy with a big glass of one of the above!
At one minute past, from little villages and towns in Burgundy, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world. "The New Beaujolais has arrived!" One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun.
Now for the science part: few other wines are produced, bottled, and released within a few weeks of the harvest. The simplest way to do this is to employ a method called carbonic maceration. This is when fermentation starts inside the skins. Traditionally, the winemaking process begins with the crushing of grapes; the juice of the grapes is pushed out of the skins and gradually ferments. With carbonic maceration, the grapes are not crushed. The grapes are piled on top of each other in a sealed container that is filled with carbon dioxide. More CO2 is produced by the grapes on the bottom of the container, as it is gently crushed by the weight of the top grapes. All this carbon dioxide causes fermentation to take place inside the grape skins creating a wine which is fresh, fruity, and very low in tannins – a great characteristic of the Gamay grape.
Nouveau has very bright, fresh, red fruit flavours, such as cherry, strawberry, and raspberry, and will be delivered to your palate with a distinct zing. Because of the lack of tannins, it should be very soft in the mouth, and easy to drink. Beaujolais Nouveau is not a wine to sniff, swirl, and contemplate; it’s a wine to pour and party with.
Beaujolais Nouveau pairs wonderfully with many foods, but none better than some Camembert and saucisson on a fresh baguette. Because of this we’re bringing you a wonderful offer over the weekend in conjunction with On the Pig’s Back, for €25 you can pick up a bottle of this year’s vintage from Bubble Brothers and from On the Pig’s Back a Camembert, the soft creamy French cheese made from cows milk; saucisson, a dry cured French sausage made from pork mixed with salt, sugar and a guarded spice mix (similar to salami) alongside a specially made Arbutus baguette all for €25.
It doesn’t end there. We’ve also grabbed ourselves a pastry chef all the way from Burgundy (where Beaujolais Nouveau is from) John-Paul. JP will be working alongside ABC bread to produce the beautiful light cheesy choux pastry Gougère, these light bites work wonders with the light fruitiness of Beaujolais.
So on Thursday the 20th and until Saturday the 22nd, pop in to the English Market and experience a little bit of France in Cork. Berets, baguettes, cheese and even some Edith Piaf singing in the background.
Sauce for the gander...?
You-know-what is coming and the goose is getting fat.
It's time to find some Burgundy to do justice to that.
We thought you'd appreciate a reliable red and white Burgundy for the season ahead, so we've been requesting samples from likely suppliers. Now there's no need to get in a flap, but if you'd like to try for yourself the two white and four red wines we tasted yesterday, duck down to the Marina before 6pm today, Saturday, beak-ause the bottles are still here for your consideration.
If it's any incentive, we didn't think any of them were turkeys: all tasty, approachable wines. So, as usual, the quack was mighty -- but the more opinions we have the better when it comes to making the final decision.
We thought a change of website might scare away the ghouls and ghosties, so in the run-up to Hallowe'en we've switched to a new Bubble Brothers site based on Magento.
There's bound to be a bit of gremlin-bashing to do in the days ahead, but we think the secret powers and spooky flexibility of the new arrangement make it a tiptoe in the right direction.
That's the local colour -- but you'd probably like to know about the end result of all that hard work: what's in the bottle?
By all accounts (I haven't tried it yet, though sources close to me have), this year's BN is a richly coloured wine, with a good bit of substance and flavour too, by the light and fruity standards of the style. It's always a great lunch wine, or a juicy and refreshing partner for autumnal roast chicken or mild game.
We have a limited supply this year at €12.99, available from bubblebrothers.com, from the English Market and also from the Marina.
If you're interested to see how this relatively delicate wine ages, ask for one of the half-a-dozen or so bottles we kept back from last year and have a little comparative tasting. A year of age doesn't do much harm, in fact: there's still fruit, but without the candied notes of a new vintage, and pleasant grippy tannins that make the 12 Month Old rather a rare drop, even if not to be preferred to the youthful charms of the 2013.
Get it while you can!
Time is what makes the difference between a young Rioja and a Rioja crianza. The youngster gets no more than a year's oak aging, while crianza wines from the region are aged for two years, of which at least one year is spent in oak barrels to enrich the flavour and body of the wine.
Which brings me to the road accident, just yards from our bonded warehouse, that badly damaged a consignment of delicious, ready-to-drink Rioja of the two-years-aging kind. More than a few bottles are gone for good (whose great idea was it to put the stuff in glass containers?), but about ten cases escaped with only superficial damage to their labels: scrapes and scuffs and purplish splashes from their unlucky truck-mates.
We could have called in the customs officer to witness their destruction and allow us to reclaim the duty--or we could have decided to sell them. We went with plan B, so if you'd like a case of rather scruffy Rioja crianza from the estimable Bodegas Martínez Corta, and are happy to pay €108 for it instead of the usual €180, follow this link very, very, quickly. We have only ten cases to sell at this price.
Like all our mixed cases, this one will be delivered to your door at no further charge. But only if you're quick.
I'm a big fan of the red wines that Pascal Gianesini conjures up at Château Jouclary near Carcassonne. No surprises there, if you've ever been within shopping distance of me at Bubble Brothers. His Cuvée Tradition is my default recommendation, to the point of nearly overdoing it. But then, what's not to like? Time and time again, it has turned out to be the closest thing to that French wine of sainted memory you had once that was just so gorgeous and not that expensive and you've never found anything like it since.
So I've been dragging my feet about actually sampling the latest addition to the Jouclary reds, which you can see here on the right, for fear of spoiling something beautiful with even a tinge of disappointment. I'm already long enough in this game that wacky, punny names don't hurt me any more, and I've nothing against the lighter styles of red: on the contrary.
But lighter reds just don't have much of a following, and some of those we've sampled from other suppliers haven't threatened to remedy things any time soon.
However, apprehension notwithstanding, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, and when I was offered the remains of a bottle opened late on the last day of the recent Cork French Food and Wine Festival, I didn't refuse.
Which was lucky, because Pascal has put the ball in the back of the net once again. The Apé'Rouge fulfils and exceeds its brief – it's fruity and supple and a pleasure to drink: a wine you can drink between meals without ruining your appetite. It has a screwcap, to keep all that lipsmacking freshness in and to encourage you to go on a picnic with it.
At the time of writing, you'll get a bottle for €12.99 or, in the English Market shop, @ 2 for €25 while stocks last &c.