A Great Tasting in Balie Atha Cliath, Which Means …

1.01pm, Saturday 11th September, London Bridge, London
Well, no wonder the All Blacks are the number 1 rugby team in the world. They get us by one point – but don’t write the Wallabies off. They’re close now, very very close, and it will all be worth it when they hit their straps.

Now back to Dublin, and back to the vaulted cellar  and dining room downstairs at Ely CHQ. They let us use their cellar to do a tasting for a group of folks from the Dublin trade, and we worked through a solid list of 13 wines to showcase the jewels in the Hill Smith family’s wine  world – Yalumba, as well as the individual Pewsey Vale, Heggies and Mesh vineyards . As we only get one opportunity to visit town each year, we definitely try to make the most of it. Then we took the bottles into lunch and tried the wines again with food – always the best test for how well any wine is travelling – and there were a handful of superstars on the day.

First up with the lovely traditional clotted cream leek and mature Irish cheddar tart, it was the pair of 2008 Y Riesling and 2008 Eden Valley Wild Ferment Chardonnay.

Organic sausage and mash

Then because I’m such a farm girl, I couldn’t resist Ely’s own organic pork sausages, wholegrain mustard mash, and leek fondue, which just loved having the 2008 Y Cabernet Sauvignon (usually overlooked and is lush, chocolatey with dark fruits – yep a bit Cherry Ripey but not too sweet), the spice-driven 2006 Patchwork Shiraz, and the ever-bouncey 2005 Signature Cab Shiraz along for the ride. Some of the boys went with the baked crusted cod, which was the perfect partned for the leaner but still limey 2007 mesh Riesling and the richer fruits and oak of the Heggies Chardonnay.

The healthy fruit plate

With dessert, check out the photo because I went for the healthy fruit plate option – the fresh Irish strawberry tart and redcurrant bavarois and Eton mess (a combo of whipped cream and fresh red and blue berries!).  Most of the boys went for the three-way chocolate combo of dark choc mousse and chilli & ginger cheesecake and choc tart – and went with the ”made to fit in with chocolate any which way” big red double of 2003 Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet and 2005 Octavius Shiraz.

Food and wine crossover demonstration for Dublin … complete. 

There was a pretty healthy lunch trade going on both downstairs in the brasserie and upstairs in the courtyard, which was great to see. With any luck if we can get folks to  sort out all the financial sector drama and we can get the doom and gloom merchants to take a few days off in a row, I have a huge amount of faith in the Irish arena to actually come good! And when it does, we’ll be firing on all eight cylinders along with the Ely people, drinking those great Americanos as quickly as Eoin (sorry Owen, I forgot I was in Ireland) can send them out. If you’re a Dub or visiting Balie Atha Cliath (say it as “baal-ya utta clee -ah” and that means Dublin City in proper Irish, my first lesson in becoming a proper local) then you must go underground at Ely CHQ and see what’s going on. They’re doing it well.

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