Retracing the footprints of Cork’s Wine Geese Families, with Ted Murphy

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Ted Murphy, wine historian and author of ‘A Kingdom of Wine – The Story of Ireland’s Wine Geese’ will lead the walking tour, ‘retracing the footprints of Cork’s Wine Geese families’ – their connections in Cork – the street names, buildings and places, and people originally from Cork, connected with some of the famous wine families of the world.

Free event

Walking Tour

Starting point: The Port of Cork Building (inside reception area upstairs.)

Time: 3.30pm, Saturday 17th August 2013

To book places (free event, but advance booking advised) please contact the ‘Bringing the Wine Geese Home’ committee members – contact details https://bringingthewinegeesehome.com/contacts/

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Wine & Art: Masterpieces from the Medoc Showcased Alongside Cork’s Finest Objets D’Art

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The Setting: A hot sultry evening in Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery

The Characters: Two distinguished gentlemen from the World of Wine engaged in a public tête-à-tête under the silent gaze of gods, nymphs, muses, warriors and fauns.

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This was July’s offering in the “Bringing The Wine Geese Home” calendar, which saw Wine Geese author and local historian Ted Murphy in conversation with 8th generation Bordeaux wine merchant and descendent of Cork nobility, Pierre Lawton. Despite the soaring outside temperatures, a large flock of wine-geese enthusiasts had gathered in the Crawford’s sculpture room for this Bordeaux tasting amidst the sculptures – the airy room which is home to Cork’s biggest collection of Greco-Roman statues provided a welcome cooling backdrop to this hotly-anticipated evening.

The preceding Wine Geese events have been bringing winemakers with Irish roots to Cork to showcase their wines and winemaking practices, but this event offered an alternative slant: Pierre isn’t a winemaker as such, he is one of the most respected Bordeaux-based négociants, specializing in high-end chateaux bottled wines. A position that sees him regularly dining at Lafite or Mouton and other top Chateaux as the quatorzien (14th guest), called in by superstitious Chateau owners to round out numbers seated at the dining table. This enviable status means Pierre has at his disposal a rich store of tales to regale and charm an audience with. We were more than entertained by stories featuring Greta Garbo, playing backgammon with Philippe de Rothschild and the tipple preferred by Bordeaux aristocracy at Christmas – a day in the life of a Bordeaux Wine Merchant…..

….a Wine Merchant whose family has been selling wine since 1739 in Bordeaux. However, as Ted Murphy explained, this great merchant family’s links stretch far beyond the Quai des Chartrons  to another great port city of that era: their history can be traced back to 18th Century Cork, where Lawton was one of the prominent merchant names of the time. Ted’s extensive research, chronicled in his book “A Kingdom of Wine”, reveals that the plot of land occupied by Cork’s General Post Office was formerly a busy quay, known as Lawtons Quay, where boats docked to load and unload their valuable cargo. Around that time, the Lawtons also played a law-enforcement role as sheriffs, later paradoxically taking on the role of pirates. Hugh Lawton, a direct ancestor of Pierre’s, was appointed Mayor of Cork City in 1776, and as testament to his time in office, an enormous portrait of Hugh in all his mayoral finery hangs above the main staircase in the Crawford, which, thanks largely to efforts by both Ted and Pierre, has been lovingly restored to its former glory. How fitting then that that an evening celebrating one of the great Wine Geese families should take place in Cork’s main art gallery!

Having set the scene, Ted entrusted us to Pierre to guide us through the tasting. This was a horizontal tasting – same vintage, different wines. Pierre had carefully chosen wines from the exceptional 2009 vintage and from 3 of the great appellations in the Haut Medoc: St Julien, St Estephe and Pauillac that he felt represented the different village styles of the Haut-Médoc perfectly. It seems there is no Cru Classé worth its salt that Pierre’s company “Alias Bordeaux” doesn’t peddle – and the final wine – a great “Irish” Wine from Chateau Lynch-Bages – demonstrated this perfectly.

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Wine 1: Chateau Clauzet Saint Estephe 2009. Easy-drinking, well integrated acidity, good structure and ripe supple tannins. Fruit-forward with blackberry and dark cherry. Some liquorice notes and a hint of oak. A good old-fashioned Bordeaux!

Wine 2: Chateau Branaire Ducru Saint Julien 2009. Deep and dark with a classic Cabernet Sauvignon nose and a hint of oak. Gorgeous texture with refreshing acidity and ripe firm tannins that don’t overwhelm. Flavours of blueberries and cassis overlaid with some floral notes and a fine layer of oak. Smooth and complex with a beautiful finish. Still tastes a touch on the youthful side – I’ve made a mental note to try this again in a few years.

Wine 3: Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac 2009. Fifth growth from the Mouton fold. Deep and intensely dark. Coffee, forest fruits, liquorice and the faintest whiff of flint on the nose. Medium-bodied with a silky texture and juicy, concentrated ripe black cherry and plum. Excellent balance with a lingering finish. Delicious now, but undoubtedly with many better years ahead

Wine 4: Chateau Lynch Bages Pauillac 2009.  Where to start???? I think I’ll start with the finish – every time I taste Lynch-Bages, I’m blown away by how long the flavours linger after the wine has been dispensed with. Despite its age (or lack of), this is remarkably soft and quite feminine. The tannins firm, but velvety. Plums, cassis, figs, cedar, and smoke – they’re all there. Perfectly polished – an excellent example of fine Bordeaux. Imagine what it will be like in a few years time!

A vast array of styles, but with a shared common trait –all extremely drinkable despite their youth. This brought me back to a another Wine Geese event earlier in the year when Master of Wine, Jane Boyce, told us how the 2009 “en primeur” tastings were a joy that year due to the unusually soft tannins even when the wines were still in cask.

Pierre’s choice was impeccable, demonstrating the best Bordeaux has to offer from everyday quaffers to those special occasion wines. Not an advocate of too much fuss or overly technical terms often used in the world of wine. “My advice: just enjoy the wine! Don’t be prejudiced by what you read!” Simple, but sound advice indeed!

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We would like to thank Pierre Lawton for taking the time to travel to Cork and share his stories and wines with us; to Dr. Ted Murphy for inviting Pierre to Cork, and for his fascinating introduction, not to mention all the work he has tirelessly carried out over the years on the subject of the Wine Geese. Finally, we would like to thank Suzanne and all the Team in The Crawford Art Gallery for making the beautiful Sculpture Room available for the evening!

‘A Bordeaux Evening in Cork’, Thursday 11th July

‘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.

Pierre will illustrate his talk with a tasting of the following wines from the acclaimed 2009 vintage:

Château Clauzet  Saint Estephe 2009
Château Branaire Ducru  2009
Château Clerc Milon 2009
Château Lynch Bages 2009

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, 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.

To reserve places, please contact Beverley Mathews, Maurice O’Mahony,  or Colm McCan  Contact details here

Avant-Garde Cork Dining Meets Pioneering Australian Winemaking

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May was a busy month in the Wine Geese Calendar with Irish Winemakers flying into Cork from around the world. The latest event, which was another sell-out, lured Emma Cullen of Cullen Wines Margaret River to Cork for a Tasting & Wine Dinner in Cork’s Iconic Vegetarian Restaurant, Café Paradiso.

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The philosophy of Cullen Wines, which is based on dry farming and biodynamic practices, couldn’t have found a better partner than in the like-minded Café Paradiso, which champions all things seasonal and natural – the perfect venue for this Wine Geese billing. 

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A detailed account on the evening has kindly been provided by Billy Lyons – click here

 

We are delighted with the interest and success that all the Wine Geese Events have been receiving with most events quickly selling out.

 

Watch out for the next event in Cork with Pierre Lawton of Bordeaux Power House, Chateau Lawton and hugely respected Wine Geese Researcher and Author, Ted Murphy, in the Crawford Art Gallery on July 11th. . What these two gentlemen don’t know about the Wine Geese isn’t worth knowing. Early booking is advised to avoid disappointment! Contact Colm McCan on 021 4652 531 or by email on colm@ballymaloe.ie

Wine Geese Dinner Just Announced – June 27th

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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

Anthony Tindal will also be showing some of the wines he makes as well – so a great representation of Irish Wine Geese Wines

The evening includes a 5-course tasting menu presented by Chef Kevin O’Regan

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Booking is essential. To book, please contact Chapel Steps Restaurant on +353 23 8852581

Little Beauty Comes Home

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“Who’s good at keeping secrets?” was Fleur McCree’s opening address to the Little Beauty devotees who had flocked to the sixth event in the “Bringing the Wine Geese Home” series held in L’Atitude 51 on Thursday 16th May. With a couple of furtive glances around the room, Fleur decided we looked like an honest bunch, worthy of being let in on her “BIG” secret, but it came with a caveat:  “What goes on the Little Beauty Tour stays on the Little Beauty Tour” – possibly the best introduction to a wine tasting I’ve ever witnessed: in an instant, Fleur had us on the edge of our seats, as captive an audience you can get.

This was Fleur’s second visit to L’Atitude 51 – last year she gave a lively tasting of her impressive range of Marlborough wines, which proved so popular that this year’s event sold out immediately. This time Fleur was back in Cork under the guise of Marlborough Wine Geese representative.

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“Are there any Cox’s, Healy’s or O’Donovan’s here tonight?” Fleur asked. Silence. Then a hand went up – “my mother was a Cox”. With that, Fleur proceeded to produce a carefully drawn family tree, tracing her ancestors back to Passage West, where her great-great-great grandfather hailed from. He was the wanderer who left Cork in the 1840’s for the Antipodes, becoming one of the first Europeans to settle in New Zealand. “Ok, so there‘s only one Cox, and no Healy’s, or Donovan’s, but you are ALL part of the Little Beauty Family!”

And so the tasting began. Fleur gave a really informative synopsis on viticultural and vinification practices in New Zealand, animatedly explaining why Kiwi wines are unique. The main reason is that New Zealand is blessed with more than 2000 hours of sunshine per year – to put it into perspective, that’s more hours than the average person works in a year. This allows the grapes to ripen fully and ensures consistency with every vintage. The other major contributor to its individual style is the diurnal fluctuation in temperature, which sees temperatures rising to 30 degrees during the day and then dropping dramatically to 2 degrees at night. To help us grasp the significance of this, Fleur helpfully demonstrated: “Imagine I’m a grape. I’m basking in the sun all day, building up a nice colour and abundance of sugars, then at night, I step into the fridge to cool down and preserve those elements built up during the day.” Bingo! Everyone instantly got it. In a nutshell, New Zealand wines have one common trait that links them all together: clarity of fruit and pronounced aromatics, which can be largely attributed to their inimitable and rather enviable climate.

The first wine was poured: Little Beauty Limited Edition Dry Riesling 2010. Made in minute quantities on less than 2 hectares of her Marlborough vineyard, this wine has a wonderfully inviting nose, fresh and fruity, that just screams: “taste me”. On the palate it’s dry, with a refreshing citrus zing of lemon and lime, an effervescent acidity and a soft grapefruit finish. It has great depth of flavour and a long lingering finish. It was clearly a hit with everyone in the room. And it’s not just us – the Germans have been snapping it up, and more recently, orders have been flying in from Japan.

Despite its complexity, it’s a great everyday drinking wine, or as Fleur so eloquently put it: “it’s like the lager of wine and goes great with roast pork – and”, clearly unable to keep the secret any more “this Little Beauty has just won Gold in the Decanter World Wine Awards!!!” Finally the secret was out! But the good news had to stay within the confines of the room, as the results wouldn’t be announced for another week. It was evident to all present why this wine had brought home gold, but we’d have to wait till the following Tuesday to share the good news.

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Starting a tasting with a wine that has just been awarded best in class is a bold move as it sets quite a challenge for the other wines to follow, but the second wine in the LB family – a Pinot Gris – firmly stood its ground. Fleur explained that Pinot Gris is a vigorous variety whose enthusiasm to produce bunches and bunches of dilute grapes needs to be curbed in order to preserve flavours. A lot of manual intervention is therefore required to remove excess bunches so that the vine focuses its efforts on producing concentrated grapes as opposed to numerous grapes. “This makes it the most pampered variety in the vineyard”. Pampered it may be, but deservedly so – this Little Beauty is ripe and oily and, despite the perception of sweetness, it surprisingly contains less residual sugar than the “dry” Riesling! Tangerine, vanilla and quince on the enticing nose. the palate is full and creamy with flavours of apricot, butterscotch and a hint of spice on the finish. It’s best only lightly chilled so as not to suppress the wonderful aromatics, which can be paired with a variety of flavours from nuts to smoky cheeses and pork. The pecorino and pear that L’Atitude had chosen to pair with it worked a treat.

Wine number three was a delightful Sauvignon Blanc displaying some of the classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc traits, but without the aggressive MSB aromas that grab you by the nose and throat and leave you gasping for breath. Yes, this wine has passion fruit, mint, some gooseberry and the faintest hint of cat-pee, but all in congruent quantities – in short, this wine oozes class. There are layers and layers of intense fruit flavours, starting with mango and passion fruit, leading to a zesty citrus mid-palate, giving way to a fresh finish interwoven with basil and spearmint. Tomato can be tricky to pair with wine, but Fleur recommended trying these two together: L’Atitude’s savoury goat’s cheese and tomato loaf that was served with it echoed her recommendation beautifully.

The Sauvignon was followed by yet another surprise – a Mystery Wine, brought in especially for the occasion. With its sexy dark bottle and classy black label it certainly exuded an aura of mystery. Intrigued, we tasted, not quite sure what to expect. What followed was a real surprise – creamy, rich butterscotch with textured layers of peach – yet despite the richness, it was laced with an incredible freshness of citrus and mint. The nose was also brimming with butterscotch, but again that freshness, reminiscent of fresh herbs. So what was this mysterious wine? An oaked Chardonnay? A battonaged Pinot Gris? The clue really was in the freshness as it turned out to a barrel-fermented version of the Sauvignon Blanc, cleverly named the Black Beauty Edition. Only 200 cases were produced from a few selected rows. Following a quick harvest, the grapes are fermented in small French barriques that are at least ten to twenty years old, imparting no oak flavours, but bestowing a creaminess and richness that I have never tasted on any Sauvignon Blanc before. Stainless steel plays no part in the fermentation, nor do cultured yeasts – only local wild yeasts are used. The final verdict: Incredible!

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“Hello, you exotic Little Beauty”, Fleur greeted the penultimate wine – a Gewurztraminer bursting with aromas you’d expect from a Turkish bazaar: rose tropical and candied fruits, spice – they were all there. Fleur explained that unlike its vigorous sibling, Pinot Gris, this is a lazy variety that needs a lot of encouragement to produce ripe grapes. But when it does, it produces a wine like this one: luscious, aromatic and fruity, yet balanced by a crisp acidity with a spicy backbone. This is a versatile food wine that will go well with cheeses, Foie Gras, terrines, spicy crab and fragrant curries….and L’Atitude’s signature spicy green olive feuilletés, which provided the perfect accompaniment to this spicy number.

The evening drew to a close with the only red in the Little Beauty Family – the big brother of the clan, so to speak. While Marlborough receives over 2500 hours of sunshine, it is not really hot enough to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, but Pinot Noir, which is a cool climate variety, fares particularly well here – and boy, does it do it do well in the hands of the Little Beauty Team. Intensely aromatic with raspberry, strawberry and a hint of black cherry on the nose with some smoky notes. The palate was packed with pure red fruits: raspberry, strawberry and red cherry with black cherry coming through on the finish. It is delightfully soft with silky tannins and a vibrant, refreshing acidity with a touch of pepper on the long finish. It is great on its own, but even better with duck, lamb or pork, or the selection of Jack McCarthy black pudding that L’Atitude had paired it with, which picked up on the pepper on the finish. And what a way to finish!

An evening of intrigue, amazing wines and delicious food, magnificently delivered in Fleur’s enchanting style. She took us on an amazing journey of her beloved homeland, embracing us like long-lost relatives – in a few short hours, this honorary Cork lady had worked her way into our hearts, proving herself a worthy wine geese representative.

We’d like to thank Fleur McCree for taking the time out of a very busy schedule to share her story and wines with us; to Maurice O’Mahony of Wine Alliance for bringing Fleur to Cork; and to the staff of L’Atitude 51 for making their Wine Workshop available and providing the wonderful canapés.

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Little Beauty Wines are imported by Wine Alliance and are widely available around the country in independent off-licences – check out the list of stores here: http://winealliance.wordpress.com/stockists/

To find out more on Little Beauty check out their website: http://www.littlebeauty.co.nz

Tuesday 28th May, Cafe Paradiso wine dinner with Emma Cullen of Cullen Wines, Margaret River

Wine Geese dinner in Cafe Paradiso, May 28th, with Cullen Wines

As part of the Bringing the Wine Geese Home Gathering series of events, Cafe Paradiso are delighted to announce that Emma Cullen of Cullen Wines in Margaret River, Australia will showcase thier wines at a special dinner in Paradiso on Tuesday 28th May, in association with Liberty Wines.

Cullen Wines are renowned not only for their sophisticated quality but also for the philosophy behind their production, being produced on a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate. Rest assured, the Paradiso kitchen will be cooking up a storm to match these wines through a multi-course meal.

This will be a single sitting dinner event with limited availability, and booking is essential. Tickets, at €65 for dinner and accompanying wines, can be booked by calling the restaurant on 021 4277939.