Wine Talk At Ballymaloe Cookery School

It is always an immense pleasure to make the journey down South to Shanagarry, three times a year, to meet Darina Allen, Colm McCann, the team and the 12 week Certificate Course students at Ballymaloe Cookery School. The classes always enjoy tasting the wines and hearing about the growers and the regions where they were produced. Questions and comments tend to fuse from the four corners of the room, so the tasting are always quite lively and interesting and it is never a problem to fill a couple of hours. This week`s session took us through two regions I particulary love, Burgundy and the South West of France. Kick starting with Burgundy`s Cotes de Beaune, we tasted Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne "Chardonnay" 2005, which is a very good example of entry-level white Burgundy, with its apple, lime and mineral character. The second wine brought us more south, in the Cote Chalonnaise, in the village of Givry. Laurent Parize has a 9-ha estate there and produce fruit scented, delicate wines. His Givry "Champ Nalot" 2007 was youthful and expressive with typical strawberry, raspberry and gamey flavours. We then moved on to Beaujolais with Jean-Charles Braillon`s traditional and intense Regnie "Forchets" 2003. Yes, 2003. Surprising to read that we are still on this relatively old vintage. The reason is Jean-Charles is a traditionalist and mature his wines in large foudres for up to 30 months and he will only be releasing his 2004 vintage in a few weeks. His wines show atypical intensity of flavours and robust structure for a Beaujolais and in good vintages, they can accompany dishes as strong-flavoured as wild boar (yes, I try!..) We started our journey in the South West with one of its most famous off-spring, Alain Brumont of Chateaux Montus and Bouscasse fame in the Madiran appellation. His Vdp de Gascogne, Gros manseng-Sauvignon blanc 2008 was bursting with white and exotic fruit flavours, super freshness and a serious mineral edge. The second wine is one of my personal favourite on our entire list, Chateau du Cedre Prestige 2005, a wonderful Cahors made with Malbec and a dash of Tannat (10%). Pascal Verhaeghe shows with this wine his impeccable winemaking skills and a total understanding of his terroirs and of the Malbec grape.Pure brilliance, with massive fruit, layers upon layers of complex fruity, gamey and seedy flavours and ripe tannins to match, that will age effortlessly for a decade or more. Word is that Pascal Verhaeghe and his friend Luc de Conti of Tour des Gendres in Bergerac may be coming to us to visit Ireland early next year, we will keep you posted! The last wine, a sweet Jurancon, which incidentally, as Colm McCann informed us, is served with the dessert course in the tasting menu of Heston Blumenthal`s Fat Duck Restaurant, was Charles Hours Jurancon "Uroulat" 2007. It showed great potential with its enticing nose of orchard fruits compote, tropical fruit followed with an early mineral grip and racy acidity. This will evolve in a truly fantastic wine given 6 to 12 months in bottle. This utmostly enjoyable tasting was followed by lunch at Ballymaloe Cafe, where once again, we were treated with the scrumptious food prepared by the students and the Kitchen team. A great thanks to Darina, Colm, the Ballymaloe Team and the students for their very kind welcome, Cannot wait for my next visit! Pascal with students at Ballymaloe Cookery School
Pascal Rossignol

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