Monthly Archives: September 2011

Spent last night in the Hole in the Wall!

7.38am, Thursday 29th September, Drury Street, Dublin central, Ireland

The heatwave in Dublin continues, folks! Yesterday it got to 20 degrees and it looks like the same thing will happen again. The Dubliners have taken the sun cream out of the storage boxes, put on the shorts and sun dresses and are soaking up the rays.

I’m finding it difficult to find half an hour to sit at this machine and write up the fab events that we’ve been up to this last week, so bear with me, it will happen eventually! I’m getting picked up in an hour for the drive down to Cork, where we will be doing a wine tutorial, cookery class and dinner with the Ballymaloe House family. Get ready for some serious foodie photography whilst I’m down there!

And speaking of food pics, wait till you see the ‘Before – with scales’ and ‘After – on the plate’ shots of an 11kg deepwater halibut from Pasta Vino – our Tuesday night date. By the way gals, I think I have found quite possibly the most attractive “Blokes who can cook mighty well” in Ireland at Pasta Vino – in the seaside town of Greystones south of Dublin if you’re looking for a nice place to have lunch or dinner soon! Some days you really have to love your job! More details to follow, I promise.

Also much more to come on one of the best kept secrets in Dublin – the “Recession Buster Wine Nights” at The Hole in the Wall pub alongside Phoenix Park. Here’s the pub, and ‘the hole’ that folks used to slip through in the Park wall to get to the pub in the olden days.

See ya when we’re in Cork.



And now from Gaillimh!

7.57am, Park House Hotel, Forster Street, Eyre Square, Galway, Ireland

I’m about to get picked up for the drive back to Dublin, after a top tasting at the Blue Room here in our number one hotel Yalumba fortress in the city of Gaillimh, or Galway to those of us who don’t speak fluent Gaelic. And the Galway coat of arms? The galleon in full flight because of the relationship between this part of the Irish coast and the Spanish Armada. But that’s another story! I just wanted to check in and let you know all was well, and I’ll catch you up on what we’ve been up to when I get back to Dublin. Here though, is a quick look at the authentic Irish pub where local musicians play every evening in an old, low sagging ceiling, single room bar, still nicotine-stained from the old days when smoking inside was the done thing – especially considering that’s it’s usually raining and cold in these parts. It’s the An Pucan – don’t miss it for the real thing if you’re in Galway.


The boys are back in town …

11.37am, Sunday 24th September, Grafton Street, Dublin central, Ireland

Got a couple more hours sleep and watched Ireland devastate Russia in the World Cup Rugby – and last night I predicted Ronan O Gara would be the best thing about the game – you have to love those skin tight jerseys! – and so he did go on to be Man of the Match. They’re on the march now for those quarter and maybe even the semi finals! Well done to the Green Machine.

I just went down the street to get some coffee, and here’s the Dublin castle crest I was talking about, on my new umbrella. And here’s the statue of Phil ‘Thin Lizzy front man’ Lynott out the front of the Bruxelles where they used to play.

I have a stack of notes on the Grenache Day to write up, and I’ll be back later with my favorites from the event.



And now it’s Balie Atha Cliath

3.34am, Sunday 24th September, Drury Street, Dublin central, Ireland

‘Baile Atha Cliath’, what Dublin was known as in old Gaelic times, roughly translates as ‘the town of the hurdled ford’, and you’ll see it everywhere in conjunction with the city’s three castle coat of arms.

It’s nearly 4am, and this is the tough bit folks – that couple of days where you’re battling through the day 5 -9pm where your body says it’s the middle of the night, and you hit this hour of the morning when you’re wide awake – and the only other people awake are on their way home from a big night out. Weird, but part of the job.

So here we are in a rip roaring Dublin city, where things are currently traveling well. The weather’s nothing short of spectacular Indian summer sunshine, and “The Dubs” (the locals”) are happy. Last weekend their Dublin Blues won the GAA All Ireland Gaelic football final for 16 years, against old rivals Kerry. Gaelic football is not that far away from Australian rules football, and there’s an international game between the two countries coming up, once our Grand Final is played next weekend.

So Dublin is still covered in blue streamers, balloons and flags from that win, and in the pubs, they’re still replaying the Irish win over the Wallabies in the World Cup Rugby. In about two hours, the whole city will be in front of the TV again as the Irish roll on and play the Russians. If all goes well for the rest of the pool matches in this tournament, there’s no reason why Ireland shouldn’t get at least to the quarterfinals – and that will keep spirits flying high. Arthur’s Day Guinness bunting celebrating the anniversary of the famous black beer from last Thursday came down yesterday. It stopped much of the nation in a good way at 17.59 or 5.59pm to mark the 1759 establishment of the brewery, just another reason why Dublin seems to be in such a good mood at the moment.

And into this picture comes us, with a week of Yalumba events that started on Friday evening when we took two new wines in to show our good friends at Jaipur, and yesterday’s International Grenache Day celebrations at the Ely Bar & Brasserie down at Georges Quay.

I’ll get into that later, but for now, I’m going to leave you with the last photo from Friday night – our first night in town – out with the girls at McDaids pub, just off Grafton Street and opposite the Bruxelles cellar where the legendary Thin Lizzy used to play.

Welcome back to Dublin, and I don’t want to tempt fate in these fickle economic times, but folks have a very definite feeling that the good Yalumba times are going to roll!


Made it to Paris


8.12am,Friday 23rd September, Charles De Gaulle airport, Paris,France. Gate 12

Waiting for the last of three airplane rides, and I’ll be back in the Emerald Isle. Just buying all the right stuff in dutyfree – glass Eiffel Towers full of chocs, whole camemberts – you know the drill!

See ya when I’m finally on the ground in Dublin.

PS If this lands, it means I worked out the free15 minutes of wi fi in the airport!

24 hours to Dublin

9.42pm local time, Kuala Lumpur International Airport Gate C 17

Sorry Roy Orbison, I pinched your song title, but I am only “24 hours from Dublin, 1 day away from the craic!” I’m still getting a bit of spiritual lift from Zimmy’s Touriga from last night’s dinner I think! Any rate, speaking of spiritual…this is the true home of The Satay – fabulous slivers of beef or chicken grilled on a skewer and drowned in slow cooked crushed peanut, lime juice, galangal, turmeric, tamarind and I’ll bet a few more secret ingredients! An extremely good reason for stopping in on the way through to the Northern Hemisphere!

OK folks, one plane ride down, two to go! Next stop Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris.

PS Did I mention that this was my first ride with Malaysian Airlines? And guess what … our 2008 Patchwork Shiraz is on the wine list!

Big night in The Glasshouse

12.33pm, Thursday 22nd September, Adelaide Airport waiting for the plane to Kuala Lumpur

So much for good intentions, folks. I ended up drinking some of that special 18-year-old fortified Touriga that the Zimmernator (winemaker David Zimmermann, for those not from the winery) blended up specially for last night’s dinner, and before I knew it, it was after midnight and I went straight to bed and out like a light! What an amazing way to finish off a great Growers Dinner in Yalumba Nursery’s Glasshouse. This fortified was like liquid chocolate caramel dried fruit maple syrup … without being sickly at all. It’s never going to be released commercially, and just for one night only we get to see what all the old-school Touriga, from the old vines looked after by the Jantke, Grope and Munzberg families, then fortified and aged gracefully, was all about. Here’s the bottle folks, like a mirage.


But I’d best get back to the two awards for the evening before I have to dive through customs and get onto the first of three plane rides to get me to Dublin:

  • Grower of the Year
  • Very Special Old Growers

First up, based on vineyard improvement, fruit quality and sustainable practices, the Grower of the Year is Paul and Michelle Edwards, who have their vineyards in the Adelaide Hills. With revegetation, reclaimed creek banks, and fauna corridor, Paul and Michelle have a model operation pushing out top-drop fruit. Thanks a huge amount, because that’s just the sort of thing that makes the difference for us when we’re pouring that wine out at the coalface.

Second, the ‘new’ Very Special Old Growers, when a family reaches that milestone of supplying grapes to Yalumba for 25 years, saw two additionslast night:

  • The Habermann clan of Hedley, Denise, Fiona and Daniel from ‘Habermann Hohe’, which is the little knuckle below Menglers Hill but above Bethany township. Amongst other things, their 1972 planted Grenache has featured on the Single Site label, so Habermann is a familiar name already around Yalumba.
  • Our own Vineyard Manager Darryl and Christine Kruger. Their vineyards are on the Valley Floor at Vine Vale, and the old block shiraz is the jewel in their crown. I’m not going to say any more about Darrell, as I already get teased enough for having a soft spot for him! But well done all and it was a treat to be asked along.

Speaking of treats – just a quick mention of Clarkey’s dessert – I got a picture of them being made up in the ‘pop up Vintners mobile kitchen’ set up outside the Glasshouse – and another when they were dressed like coffees and sent in. See what you think. Chocolate panna cotta, chambord foam & crisp raspberries = smooth frothy creamy whip with snappy tart raspberry granules on top of cold chocolate fluffy custardy thing!Yum!



Bring on the next Growers Dinner, Robin Nettlebeck, I am definitely free that night! And good fortune for the 2012 Vintage to all. By the time I get back from the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit will be set and berries a decent size. And it will just about be the Festive Season.

So I’ll see you when we’re out of Australia and on our way.