Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ballymaloe House Wine Weekend

This weekend, I ventured down to Ballymaloe House to attend the popular Mary Dowey's Wine Weekend course which has become an annual spring feature on the Ballymaloe House schedule. Mary Dowey is Ireland's leading wine correspondent for The Irish Times for over ten years. Mary has a regular column in The Gloss magazine and is the author of the best selling 'Food and Wine- Matching Made Simple' book. The weekend course has been listed among the Top 10 Wine Courses in the UK & Ireland by the Daily Telegraph, and Lonely Planet Top 10 Weekend Breaks.

The morning started with some coffee and freshly baked scones in the Ballymaloe House conservatory which overlooked the beautiful gardens of Ballymaloe House. The itinerary for the day was marked with a number of tastings from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

It was interesting to learn that Riesling is the 'King of White Wines' with a long period of refinement but Chardonnay has only been in refinement for a few hundred years. Mary Dowey discussed the top end of Burgundy wine which are all under the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée certification from Meursault, to Chablis, to Montrachet and to Corton Charlemagne.

We broke for lunch and had some delightful soup with new season wild garlic, followed by some artisan goats cheese tart with fresh garden salad followed by new season rhubarb and ice-cream. 

A few of my favourite tastings from the day were:

- A 2010 Chablis
- Thomas Hyland 2009
- Michel Lynch Merlot
- Sancerre 2010

As well as a very nice Saint-Véran 2009

If you are keen on reading some more about matching food with wine, then Mary Dowey has an excellent book: 'Food and Wine- matching made easy'.

Next week, I am planning on attending the 'Burgundy 2009- a journey through the villages of Burgundy' which will be held in Ballymaloe House. I hope to do a write up on the evening, so check back soon for more.

Following a lovely spring day of wine tasting, I took a trip to The Ballymaloe Shop which stock a number of fantastic homeware items, as well as being home to the 'cafe at the end of the shop'. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. It has a slight hint of an Emmerdale vibe about the shop and country house and is a wonderful part of East Cork nested on the edge of Ballymaloe House.